Graduate Experiences

Hear why graduate students chose SUNY Cortland

Ashley Antoine

Minju Oh

Classroom Experiences

Voice Disorders 

Students practice using the electrolarynx, a battery-powered device that generates a sound and increases intelligibility for people who have had their larynx removed.

Students practice using the electrolarynx


Using an endoscope and a mannequin that they nicknamed Seymour Bolus, students learn about flexible nasoendoscopy. Read more about their hands-on practice in the classroom.

Students use a mannequin they named Seymour Bolis in their Instrumentation class

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Graduate students learn about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) technology like eye gaze technology, a device that allows people to control a computer or tablet by looking at words or prompts on the screen. See a graduate student is using scanning with electromyography to make choices on an AAC device. 

Students using eye-gazing technology to navigate a website

Communication Disorders in Adults

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. During a summer course, students led educational sessions in the community on a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain containing language. Students also created and distributed “aphasia-friendly” menus to local restaurants and assisted living facilities.

Read more about their work to raise awareness on this language disorder.

Students educated community members on aphasia as part of their summer course on Communication Disorders in Adults


Students, faculty and staff members participated in the thickened liquid challenge to increase awareness of dysphagia, which is commonly associated with difficulty swallowing.

Students drinking thickened liquid to increase awareness of dysphagia

Graduate student work

Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) by Chloie Spraker

What is Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI)?

ASI was developed by A. Jean Ayres. It is a therapeutic approach to address sensory processing disorders. It involves sensory-rich environments and activities to improve an individual’s ability to process sensory information.


  • Preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorder(ASD) and sensory processing difficulties will receive intervention.
  • Implemented by therapists trained in the curriculum, usually occupational therapists (OT).
  • Collaboration among all professionals: Speech-language pathologists (SLPs).

Sensory Information

  • Visual: Eyesight - e.g. flickering lights
  • Auditory: Hearing - e.g. alarms
  • Tactile: Touch - e.g. wet foods
  • Gustatory: Taste - e.g. sour vs. spicy
  • Olfactory: Smell - e.g. cooking smells
  • Proprioceptive: Muscle contraction - e.g. tying shoes
  • Vestibular: Balance & movement - e.g. swinging


Improvements in:

  • Behavioral development
  • Communication skills*
  • Cognition
  • Social skills
  • Academic/pre-academic skills


  • Sensory assessments
  • Goal-setting
  • Structured sensory activities - e.g.playground equipment, push & pull toys, & textured items


Schoen, S. A., Lane, S. J., Mailloux, Z., May‚ÄźBenson, T., Parham, L. D., Smith Roley, S., &Schaaf, R. C. (2019). A systematic review of Ayres sensory integration intervention for children with autism. Autism Research, 12(1), 6–19.

Visit the SouthPaw website for examples of sensory integration equipment

Pivotal Response Training by Carly Vatter

Pivotal Response Training

Behavior Intervention
  • Facilitates generalization
  • Increases naturleness
  • Reduces unnatural prompts
  • Increases motivation
  • Provides clear, appropriate cues
  • Allows for child's choice of activity
  • Responds to multiple cues
  • Elicits turn taking
Supported Evidence


  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Speech imitation labeling
  • Question asking
  • Spontaneous speech
  • Children, 3 to 5 years old
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
Direct Reinforcement
  • Related to appropriate behavior
  • Tangible rewards
  • Verbal praise

Discrete Trial Training

Behavior Intervention
  • Cue/instruction
  • The behavior
  • Meaningful change in actions/the consequence
Discrete Components
  • Skills are broken down
  • Adding new speech sounds: 
    • Words
    • Syllables
    • Phrases
Supported Evidence

Useful for teaching new forms of behavior

  • Effective for teaching speech sounds/motor movements

New Discriminations

  • Responding correctly to differing requests
  • Children, 3 to 5 years old
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
5 Step Process
  1. Present clear instruction/question
  2. Clinician assists the child in responding
  3. Child gives correct or incorrect response
  4. Correct response, reinforcement the child enjoys. Incorrect response gentle communication that the response was incorrect
  5. Brief pause before starting next trial 

Brown, J., & Murray, D. (2002). Communication-based behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder. Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 9(2), 8-13.

Delprato, D. J. (2001). Comparisons of Discrete-Trial and Normalized Behavioral Language Intervention for Young Children with Autism, 31(3), 315-325. of Autism and Developmental

Reducing Food Selectivity Among Children with ASD by Alyssa Coscia

Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) Approach

  • ABA Intervention identifies any positive or negative reinforcements that are shaping the child's behavior.
  • When a child refuses their food and throws a tantrum, the behavior may be negatively reinforced when the parent or caregiver removes the unwanted food or terminates the meal.
  • ABA utilizes positive reinforcement to improve feeding problems and mealtime experiences.
  • “Take a bite” while placing the bite of food on a spoon, in a bowl, in front of the child. The therapist presents five total bites with a single target food being presented every 30 seconds, and would provide praise for acceptance for 30 seconds.
  • verbal praise (‘good job’) if the child took a bite and if the child swallowed their bite
  • There were no consequences if the child presented inappropriate mealtime behavior, vomiting, gagging, or coughing.

Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach

  • SOS intervention focuses on breaking down each part of the eating process into steps:Tolerates, Interacts With, Smells,Touches, Tastes and then finally Eats.
  • A child who initially is not able to tolerate the sight of a certain food on the table will be taught through play to touch the food, kiss the food, lick the food, and ultimately taste, chew, and swallow it- all while having fun in an encouraging and relaxed environment.

Social Stories by Katie Fleming


Social stories were created by Carol Gray in 1991. These stories assist individual’s with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in navigating social situations. It is often proposed that individuals with ASD struggle with social communication due to a lack of Theory of Mind skills, the ability to infer how others are thinking and feeling (Kuoch & Mirenda, 2003). Social stories aim to provide this population with descriptions of social contexts, as well as explicit directions on how to behave to be successful in the targeted situations.


This intervention works optimally for preschool children (age 3-5) with ASD since rapid social, emotional and cognitive growth occur during these years. However, the strategy can be used for any individual with ASD that struggles during a given social situation.


Social stories should be read to or by the child prior to the social context in which the target behavior occurs.


Anywhere! Social stories can be used in the home, at school, the community, therapy etc.


Identify a target behavior, observe the contexts in which it occurs, create a social story explaining the desired behavior with visual supports, read the story to the child prior to the selected social situation

What makes social stories an optimal intervention strategy?

  • Tailored to the specific needs(target behaviors) of an individual
  • Can be created with a child’s special interests in mind, which can increase the level of engagement with their story
  • Inexpensive and easy to create
  • Can be implemented across several social situations (sharing, following directions, activities of daily living, peer interactions etc.,)
  • Research studies show this intervention can decrease target behaviors immediately

How to construct a social story

Originator Carol Gray defines four main sentence types for social stories:

  1. Descriptive sentence: provides factual information “The bell rings when recess is over.”
  2. Perspective sentence: describes the emotions of others“My teacher will be happy that I line up at the door.”
  3. Affirmative sentence: reassures the reader “I will feel proud that I can follow directions.”
  4. Directive sentence: tells the individual what to do in the situation “When the bell rings, I will stop what I’m doing and line up.”

*Required sentence ratio: for every 1 directive sentence, include 2-5 descriptive, perspective and/or affirmative sentences

*Visuals accompany each sentence

An example of a directive sentence social story

This is an example of a social story focusing on handling frustration. The sentence type plays a crucial role in the social story, as it explains the behavior needed in order to be successful in a targeted social situation.


Kuoch, H., & Mirenda, P. (2003). Social Story Interventions for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18(4), 219-227.

The Silly Little Goose by Meaghan Doyle and Carly Vatter

The Silly Little Goose by Meaghan Doyle and Carly Vatter (video)

This is a book created by two of our graduate students for a child aged 4-5 years as part of their motor speech disorders class.

Written by Carly Vatter and Meaghan Doyle, illustrated by Kathleen O'Dell. 

Video Modeling in Speech Therapy by Sigal Keren

What is Video Modeling?

Video modeling is a therapy technique in which a video is presented to the child that demonstrates the skill being targeting in therapy. Following the presentation of the video, the child is given sufficient time to demonstrate what they had seen in the video through imitation of that skill or action. 

Population Targeted

It is recommended that this technique is utilized when working with young children through junior high school as research supports the use of this technique for that given age range, however emerging research may support the utilization of this technique with individuals beyond this age group as well. (Franzone and Collet-Klingenber, 2008)

Typical Approach When Using Video Modeling

  1. The clinician will obtain baseline data of the skill being targeted. This is done through observing the child when they are given an opportunity to engage in that skill with minimal cueing and no reinforcement present. 
  2. During treatment, the clinician will display a video showing the skill being targeted. The clinician may record the video or use a pre-existing video modeling demonstration. Research supports the use of a cartoon to engage the child in the video display prior to presenting the demonstration, if needed. Following the video, a window of opportunity is provided for the client to imitate that skill. The clinician should reinforce all correct demonstrations of behaviors to encourage the continuation of that skill. Feedback should be provided for any incorrect attempts. Measurement of generalization in other environments ire recommended if possible. 

Types of Video Modeling

  • Basic video modeling: another individual is recorded modeling the correct skill
  • Video self-modeling: the client is recorded modeling the correct skill
  • Point-of-view video modeling: another individual is recorded modeling the skill through the viewpoint of the client (through their eyes)
  • Video prompting: the skill is divided into smaller parts for the client to watch as they proceed through each given step

Reference: "A Guide to Video Modeling | N2y Blog." N2y, 13 Feb. 2019,

Demonstration and Explanation 

The video below shows an example of point-of-view video modeling. This video opens with a clip of a cartoon, which can be tailored to specific clients and their interests if desired. This is so the child can engage with the video display prior to the skill demonstration portion. The specific play skills being targeted for this toy include loading all the figures onto the bus, closing the door, driving the bus to the school, and unloading the figures from the bus. Subsequent language components that are being targeted include "boy drive," "girl sad," "vroom vroom" and "they at school."

Are you ready?

Contact Us

Interim Graduate Coordinator: Deborah Sharp
Department Office: Professional Studies Building
Phone: 607-753-5423
Fax: 607-753-5940