WCU to host silver anniversary of regional conference on communicative disorders

Bill Ogletree, professor of communication sciences and disorders, seen here reviewing text with a student, has been organizing the Cullowhee Conference on Communicative Disorders for 25 years.

Western Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Sciences will host the 25th annual Cullowhee Conference on Communicative Disorders on Thursday, March 23, and Friday, March 24.

The event, a regional favorite for continuing education in the field of communication sciences and disorders, will feature a broad range of presentations designed to be of interest to speech/language pathologists, allied health providers and family members of individuals with communication disorders. As a silver anniversary occasion, organizers said they want to make special note of past accomplishments covering a wide range of topics from speech, language and literacy disorders in children to aphasia and cognitive impairment in adults.

Over the past 24 years, a host of national experts have presented and more than 3,500 students, professionals and other stakeholders have attended. The conferences began when Bill Ogletree, then a new WCU assistant professor, invited Marc Fey, a nationally acclaimed expert in child language, to present a program on campus. Today, he is professor of communication sciences and disorders and department head, and the conference is considered one of the premier continuing education conferences on communication disorders in the state.

“The Cullowhee Conference on Communicative Disorders is a win-win for WCU students and speech-language pathologists in and beyond our region,” Ogletree said. “The event has brought some of the best minds in the discipline to Cullowhee and, in doing so, has enriched student instruction and improved clinical services to those with communication impairments.”

The conference will kick off with an afternoon presentation on “The Speech-Language Pathologist’s Role in Concussion Management” by Bess Sirmon-Taylor. She is associate dean of the graduate school at the University of Texas at El Paso and associate professor of speech-language pathology in its Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. Her research has focused primarily on clinical aspects of concussion management and analysis of related legislation and policy.

March 24 will include presentations by Amy M. Wetherby, distinguished research professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the Autism Institute in the College of Medicine at Florida State University. She has 30 years of clinical experience and is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Her morning program will be “Mobilizing Community Systems to Improve Early Detection of Autism and Communication Delays at 18-24 Months.” The afternoon program will be “Coaching Parents to Change Developmental Trajectories of Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”

For more information about the conference, visit the event webpage at http://www.wcu.edu/engage/community-resources/profdev/cullowhee-conference-on-communicative-disorders.asp. Registration will be managed by WCU’s Office of Personal Growth and Enrichment.