Senior speech pathology major, Melissa Donovan, presented in Poster Session 3 during the research colloquium.
Donovan researched evidence based speech language pathology treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum.
“This topic is significant because currently one in 68 children in the United States present with autism spectrum disorder,” said Donovan.
Autism is characterized by difficulty with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. Since communication is a deficit, speech language pathologists (SLP) play an important role in these individuals interdisciplinary health care team to improve their quality of life.
Donovan used evidence based practice, which is a combination of scientific research with clinician expertise and patient and caregiver values in order to provide the best service possible to fit individual needs. Her methodology included literature review of evidence based treatments and three interviews she personally conducted with SLPs.
During her research, Donovan found 105 secondary interviews of SLPs who work with patients with autism in her literature review who said that evidence based practice (EBP) is difficult to implement due to the lack of accessibility to current research, time constraints and high costs. However, the three SLPs that Donovan personally interviewed expressed very positive experiences with EBP. They said it is not only easy to implement but it is worth while.
“I think a reason for this large disparity in their answers is because the three SLPs I interviewed all work at universities so maybe it’s easier for them to stay up to date with current research,” said Donovan. “The SLPs that I read about in my literature review worked in clinics so maybe they have a harder time accessing current research.”
Going forward, Donovan believes it would be beneficial to interview a wider variety of SLPs, including those who are not affiliated with universities.
“Having the opportunity to read about and speak with speech pathologists who work with individuals with autism taught me a lot about different practices that I’ll be able to use one day,” said Donovan.