Speech and Language Department

Directors:

Janet E. Turner, PhD, CCC-SLP
Program Director

Kathy Ferguson, MS, CCC-SLP
Assistant Director

Administrative Contact:

Roberta Mason
Administrative Coordinator
Phone: (443) 923-2650
Fax: (443) 923-2655

Professional Certifying Organizations:

On the national level, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) is the professional, scientific and credentialing association. ASHA's mission is to ensure that all people with speech, language and hearing disorders have access to quality services to help them communicate more effectively. ASHA provides information and resources to professionals and the public about speech, language, feeding/swallowing, oral motor, fluency, voice and hearing disorders. They may be contacted at:

American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA)
10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852-3279
Phone: (800) 498-2071
Website: www.asha.org

At the state level, the Maryland Speech-Language and Hearing Association (MSHA) supports speech-language pathologists, audiologists and the people they serve. They may be contacted at:

Maryland Speech-Language and Hearing Association (MSHA)
P.O. Box 31
Manchester, MD 21102
Phone: (410) 239-7770

Certifications:

Kennedy Krieger Institute employs SLPs who are licensed in the state of Maryland and certified by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (Certificate of Clinical Competence, or CCC, in speech-language pathology). The Institute also hires clinical fellows in speech-language pathology who have completed their master's degrees and are beginning their professional careers. Advanced graduate students may apply for trainee positions.

Staffing (Licensure):

The number of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) has increased rapidly over the years, in tandem with development of new clinical and educational programs at Kennedy Krieger. Now, about 70 SLPs provide clinical services to children through many different avenues. The dynamic staff has expertise in meeting children's subtle and complex communication and feeding/swallowing needs.

Goal:

Staff members in the Speech and Language Department provide clinical services to pediatric patients and their families or to individuals with developmental delays or other special needs who have or are suspected of having communication, oral motor, feeding/swallowing or hearing deficits. The goal is to help these patients achieve their potential and participate as fully as possible in family, community, educational and vocational settings. Speech-language department goals encompass clinical service, training, community outreach and research.

Children can receive clinical services through four general service delivery models. These models include inpatient services, outpatient services, programs based in the local community and services offered through Kennedy Krieger's special education school programs. More detailed descriptions of these programs and the roles that SLPs play in them appear below.

Inpatient Programs:

Kennedy Krieger houses an inpatient hospital, with children receiving services on the following units: the Neurobehavioral Unit (NBU), the Brain Injury Unit (BI), the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Unit and the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (CIR). Though not housed in an inpatient unit, the Specialized Transition Program (STP) functions as an extension of the rehabilitation continuum of care linked to the Brain Injury Unit. SLPs are part of the inpatient protocol (that is, consistent team members) for the NBU, the BI, the feeding inpatient units and the STP. SLPs offer clinical services on a consult (or "as needed") basis for the CIR Unit. Following are brief descriptions of these programs, their targeted patient populations and the services that SLPs provide on each.

Neurobehavioral Unit (NBU)
Location: 707 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205
Supervising SLP: Kathy Ferguson, Assistant Director of Speech and Language

This unit, co-directed by professionals in behavior psychology and psychiatry, offers assessment and treatment to children diagnosed with developmental and significant behavioral difficulties. SLPs work closely with staff in other discipline areas, primarily behavior psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, special education and social work. When the children are admitted, SLPs assess children's functional communication skills. They determine the children's most efficient method of communication. Through assessment or trial treatment, SLPs may offer augmentative or alternative means of communicating (e.g., picture or object selection, sign language, assistive devices) to improve children's success in meeting their own needs and interacting with others. Oral motor or feeding/swallowing assessment and treatment is provided, as needed. When links between communication needs and behavior problems can be resolved, improvements in children's communication can parallel decreases in inappropriate behaviors.

Pediatric Feeding Disorders Unit (PFDU)
Location: 707 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205
Supervising SLP: Kathy Ferguson, Assistant Director of Speech and Language

This unit, co-directed by behavioral psychology and pediatric gastroenterology staff, accepts children who have been diagnosed with feeding or swallowing difficulties or behavioral difficulties related to eating (e.g., strong food preferences or food refusal). SLPs assess the patient's communication skills and review any existing IEPs to determine which of the children would benefit from direct or consultative services to improve or maintain their communication skills during their inpatient stay. SLPs collaborate with occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) to assess and treat oral motor and feeding/swallowing skills. Their findings are integrated with information from medical, nutrition, social work and behavior psychology staff members to determine appropriate plans for treatment during the child's inpatient stay. The behavior psychology staff typically provides feeding intervention at mealtimes. Involving families in feeding treatment programs is a core aspect of the program, given that most of the children admitted to this unit are young.

Brain Injury Unit (BI Unit)
Location: 707 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205
Supervising SLP: Janine Eikenberg, Senior SLP

Children may come to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit with a variety of presenting problems: neurodegenerative disorders, failure to thrive or subsequent to orthopedic surgery. SLPs' work on this unit varies according to patients' needs. When patients come to this unit for a three- to five-day interdisciplinary evaluation, the SLP functions as a member of the interdisciplinary assessment team, offering communication diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Some children who have an extended stay on this unit need support for communication, which the SLPs offer through direct intervention and staff and parent training. Consultation with assistive technology staff may be useful for children with motor or medical needs significant enough to limit their ability to communicate verbally. SLPs sometimes collaborate with the assistive technology team to evaluate patients' needs for environmental controls and train patients in their use.

Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (CIR Unit)
Location: 707 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205
Supervising SLP: Janine Eikenberg, Senior SLP

Children may come to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit with a variety of presenting problems: neurodegenerative disorders, failure to thrive or subsequent to orthopedic surgery. SLPs' work on this unit varies according to patients' needs. When patients come to this unit for a three- to five-day interdisciplinary evaluation, the SLP functions as a member of the interdisciplinary assessment team, offering communication diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Some children who have an extended stay on this unit need support for communication, which the SLPs offer through direct intervention and staff and parent training. Consultation with assistive technology staff may be useful for children with motor or medical needs significant enough to limit their ability to communicate verbally. SLPs sometimes collaborate with the assistive technology team to evaluate patients’ needs for environmental controls and train patients in their use.

Outpatient Programs:

Speech and Language Outpatient Clinic
Location: 1750 East Fairmount Ave., Baltimore, MD 21231
Supervising SLP: Kathy Ferguson, Assistant Director of Speech and Language

Through the Speech-Language Department, SLPs offer assessments and treatment to children in the toddler through adolescent age range. SLPs complete in-depth speech language evaluations, accompanied by a hearing screening offered by an audiologist. The children referred for these evaluations may need to be seen by other professionals. SLPs may request referrals in such areas as medicine, mental health, cognition, education, behavior management, motor or sensory areas. Alternatively, SLPs may function as part of an interdisciplinary team, coordinating findings and recommendations with other professionals. SLPs offer treatment focused on helping children and their parents learn strategies for improving functional communication and oral motor or feeding/swallowing skills. Treatment sessions may be offered jointly with other departments, as appropriate.

Feeding Disorders Clinic
Location: 707 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205
Supervising SLP: Kathy Ferguson, Assistant Director of Speech and Language

The Outpatient Feeding Clinic is an interdisciplinary assessment clinic staffed by professionals in nursing, gastroenterology, behavior psychology, nutrition, occupational therapy or speech-language pathology. Children may attend this clinic at a number of points along their continuum of care -- prior to being considered for an inpatient stay, after discharge from an inpatient stay or for periodic updates about their skills and needs. Staff members across these disciplines meet with patients and their families to evaluate the children's status and needs. As a team, they determine what referrals, if any, are needed and offer parents suggestions for management, as appropriate. Currently, this clinic runs two afternoons on alternate weeks of each month.

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)
Location: 3901 Greenspring Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21211
Director: Rebecca Landa, PhD, CCC-SLP

As its name implies, the Center for Autism and Related Disorders serves primarily children who have been diagnosed or are suspected of having diagnoses along the autistic spectrum (e.g., pervasive developmental disorders, autism, Asperger's syndrome). This interdisciplinary program, which operates through the psychiatry department, offers several different types of services. SLPs conduct evaluations, individually or as members of interdisciplinary assessment teams. They offer treatment individually, in dyads or small groups, or through half-day educational programs (for toddler or preschool children). SLPs focus on improving functional communication, social-cognitive skills, social reciprocity, self-regulation, symbolic play and oral-motor and speech production skills. Where appropriate, co-treatment services with a behavior psychologist or occupational therapist can be provided. SLPs may also provide consultative services to a school system or an individual, offering expert guidance to address issues of concern. Staff members provide information or suggestions regarding the method of treatment. Staff at CARD also share information with professionals and family members through workshops or lectures.

Community Programs:

Following are descriptions of services that are located in the communities surrounding KKI. The services offered through each of these programs are tailored to the needs and ages of the children enrolled in them.

Specialized Transition Program (STP)
Location: 1750 E. Fairmount Ave., Baltimore, MD 21231
Supervising SLP: Janine Eikenberg, Senior SLP

This program operates at the Fairmount Building where the Kennedy Krieger School is located. Target patient populations for this program include children who are recovering from a traumatic brain injury or recent orthopedic surgery and children diagnosed with spina bifida. Patients often enter this program as a "STEP" down from a rehabilitation inpatient hospital stay, though they can be admitted through other programs. This program offers intensive treatment services by physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists through the context of an educational model supported by a special education teacher. Students attend the school setting during the day and rotate through different class modules, where they can learn and practice new skills and compensatory strategies that they will need for their return to an educational setting. Treatment is offered throughout the day, with the intensity adjusted to the patients' needs. Medical and related services are available for children who need them.

Child and Family Support Program (CFSP)
Location: 7000 Tudsbury Rd., Baltimore, MD 21244
Supervising SLP: Sherri Coughlin, Manager of Speech-Language Services

The Child and Family Support Program is a family-focused, home-based interdisciplinary early intervention program, serving children in the Baltimore City and Baltimore County area. SLPs work with young children (0-7 years of age) who may have developmental, motor, cognitive and mental health needs in addition to communication, oral motor and feeding/swallowing needs. Team members from other disciplines include occupational therapists, physical therapists and social workers. Goals of the program include the following: training parents to meet their children's needs in their home environment, educating parents about their children's development, assisting parents in obtaining appropriate services for their children and offering other supports as needed.

PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs
Location: 7000 Tudsbury Rd., Baltimore, MD 21244
Supervising SLP: Holly Gardiner, Manager of Speech-Language Services

The Comprehensive Therapy Center at PACT offers a wide range of therapy services for children ages six weeks and older who have developmental delays and disabilities. The program is complementary to CFSP (described above) in that it focuses on early intervention, although services are offered through a center-based service delivery model. Speech-language pathologists at PACT offer diagnostic and therapeutic services in a family-centered environment. Individual and group services are available on an outpatient basis or within PACT's on-site World of Care daycare setting.

Home and Community Rehabilitation
Location: 1750 E. Fairmount Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21231
Program Director: Joan Carney, MEd

The Home and Community Rehabilitation Program is part of the Rehabilitation Continuum of Care at KKI for children diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Staff in this interdisciplinary program address the complex issues that confront neurologically injured individuals in home, community and school environments. The overall program goal is successful reintegration into these settings with maximum function and independence. Program staff believes that blending patients' "real world" needs with rehabilitation treatment results in more successful re-integration. Staff in the program represent the following disciplines: speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medicine (physiatry and nursing), behavior psychology and social work. Patients range in age from infancy to young adults. The interdisciplinary team develops a customized, structured program designed to meet the patients' values, goals and rehabilitation needs. SLPs conduct functional and standardized assessments of skills and provide individual and group treatment in collaboration with other team members. Opportunities exist for extending treatment into the community with outreach to other settings or schools.

School Programs:

Patricia Laibstain
Director of Speech-Language in Special Education
1750 E. Fairmount Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: (443) 923-9100

The Kennedy Krieger Schools (KKS) are Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) approved non-public special education schools. Students are referred to KKS programs by their local school system (LSS) when their educational needs exceed what can be met in their local school setting. Students receive funding from their LSS for enrollment at KKS until they are able to return to the less restrictive environment in their own community. Staff members develop Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) that outline the type and intensity of services students will need while they are enrolled in special education. Speech and language services are an integral part of the educational program for many of the children at KKS. SLPs collaborate with educational staff to offer a variety of communication services designed to meet students' needs. Through this collaboration, educational and support staff make classroom adaptations to lessen the effect of students' language difficulties, increasing their chance for success with schoolwork. Because communication training is part of the educational program, students learn to use compensatory strategies throughout their school day. Following are descriptions of the specific programs found within the special education program.

Kennedy Krieger School: Fairmount Campus
1750 East Fairmount Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: (443) 923-9100
Supervising SLP: Lydia Manni, Speech-Language Manager, Fairmount Campus and Partnership Program
Supervising SLP: Nikki Wojtalik, Senior SLP, Fairmount Campus

Students in the predominantly 11-month Lower and Middle Grade programs may have one or more of the following disorders: autism spectrum disorders, including pervasive developmental disorder, (language) learning disabilities (LLD or LD), emotional/ behavioral disorders (EBD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other neurological disorders. Average classes range from 8-10 students and include one teacher, an assistant teacher and program aides, if required by a student's IEP. SLPs work closely with educational and clinical staff to determine students' needs, set appropriate goals and provide training in meaningful learning environments. Students typically receive speech and language services through classroom-based oral language sessions (aligned with curriculum material, when possible), supplemented by "push in" classroom facilitation services and "pull out" services, according to each student's needs.

Autism Preschool
Supervising SLP: Nikki Wojtalik, Senior SLP, Fairmount Campus

To address the needs of younger children with autism spectrum disorders (ages 3-5 years old), Kennedy Krieger School Programs opened its autism preschool at the Lower and Middle Grades Fairmount campus in 2007. This program focuses on pre-K curriculum content standards, has a strong research component and addresses the core deficits of autism in a full-day program. A speech-language pathologist provides intensive services through ongoing contact with the students and use of a language-based collaborative teaching model.

Kennedy Krieger School: Fairmount Campus
3825 Greenspring Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21211
Phone: (443) 923-7800
Supervising SLP: Denise Taylor, Speech-Language Manager, Greenspring Campus (High School and LEAP)

Kennedy Krieger High School (KKHS) is an interdisciplinary "school to work" program focusing on educating and training special education students in work cluster areas. Students are either enrolled in a 10-month program or an 11-month program and earn either a diploma or a certificate. Students gain knowledge and skills necessary for employment upon completion of high school. Class sizes range from 7 to 12 students, on average, and include one teacher, an assistant teacher and program aides, if required by a student's IEP. Students receive speech-language services as indicated on their IEP. As with other KKS programs, close working relationships between SLPs and other interdisciplinary team members encourage students to use appropriate communication strategies throughout the day. Classroom accommodations, designed to minimize the impact of language problems, foster more efficient learning. Classroom-based speech-language service delivery is a primary model at KKHS. A unique aspect of this model is the collaboration and co-teaching with special educators. It involves co-planning and co-leading curriculum lessons with a teaching partner/team. This method provides the SLP with a dynamic and highly relevant way to deliver therapy. Speech and language IEP goals and objectives, as well as strategies, cuing techniques, etc., are integrated into the curriculum. The SLP serves as a model for teachers. He or she makes recommendations for modifying materials to allow students with speech and language impairments to have equal access to the curriculum and demonstrate their knowledge of material learned.

The Academies
Supervising SLPs: Rebecca Randall, Senior SLP, High School
Monica Watters, Senior SLP, High School

Kennedy Krieger High School is comprised of three educational academies that provide specialized delivery of instruction, classroom structure and behavioral interventions. Class groupings are intended to meet the needs of students with a range of disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, communication disorders, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury and other multiple disabilities. Social interpersonal supports are in place for these students. Work-based learning opportunities, both on- and off-campus, are provided to students across all programs. Students concentrate in one of four industry clusters that are offered.

Academy I
Academy I is comprised of students who are on a diploma pathway. The curriculum emphasizes academics in the traditional and required high school subject areas of English, social studies, math and science, and preparing students to take the high school exit examinations.

Academy II
Academy II is comprised of students on both certificate and diploma pathways. There is a concentration on academics with significant behavioral and emotional support.

Academy III
Academy III is comprised of students on a certificate pathway. The curriculum focuses on global, daily support for all academic, social communication needs. Access to the general curriculum is provided, as appropriate.

Lifeskills and Education for Students with Autism and Pervasive Behavioral Challenges (LEAP) Program
3825 Greenspring Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21211
Phone: (443) 923-4576
Supervising SLP: Stefanie Witkowski, Senior SLP, LEAP

This 12-month interdisciplinary program, with smaller class sizes, meets the needs of students diagnosed with severe communication and behavior disorders secondary to autism or other neurological disorders. The program ranges from a functional academically-based program for younger elementary aged students, to a functional life skills and/or work-based curriculum for older students. Professional staff offers educational and related services through structured protocols individualized according to student need. SLPs provide speech-language and communication services to most students in these programs through several models, including individual and small group sessions and classroom and community-based instruction. In addition, SLPs often attend community outings (work-based learning for older students and purchasing with younger students) to generalize skills learned in individual sessions into less structured settings.

The KKS Partnership Programs

  • Edison Programs (Montebello Elementary, Furman L. Templeton Elementary, Gilmor Elementary)
  • Lois T. Murray Elementary School

Supervising SLP: Lydia Manni, Speech-Language Manager, Fairmount Campus and Partnership Program

Kennedy Krieger Institute works in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education and the Edison Corporation to meet the specialized educational and related service needs for students in three Baltimore City Schools. A separate agreement enables KKS to provide educational and related services to children in one other Baltimore City school. At these sites, the staff work in a collaborative environment with strong administrative support. KKS educational and administrative staff provide special education instruction, supplemented by related services (speech-language therapy, mental health services, occupational therapy and physical therapy), as needed. SLPs conduct evaluations and provide individual or small group treatment. They consult with educational staff to help identify children who need services and to ensure that appropriate accommodations occur in their classroom settings.

Kennedy Krieger School in Montgomery County
12301 Academy Way
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: (443) 923-4170
Supervising SLP: Maria Papageorgiou, Senior SLP

The Kennedy Krieger School in Montgomery County opened in September 2007 to serve students with autism spectrum disorders, ranging from mild to moderate and some severe. The program is designed for students between the ages of 10-21 years old, and incorporates a multidisciplinary approach to programming. Speech and language services are provided through a combination of classroom-based, small group, individual, community-based instruction and work-based learning experiences. The instructional program follows "best practice" teaching methods including, but not limited to, TEACCH, applied behavior analysis, discrete trial, incidental learning, pivotal response treatment, augmented communication, picture exchange communication, sensory diets, and vocational training. Speech-language pathologists, special educators, occupational therapists, behavior specialists and social workers work closely to ensure a language-enriched environment for the students throughout the day.