Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education (UC- Berkeley, San Francisco State University)
Background: Before starting the Ph.D. program, I lived in Israel where I had extensive experience working both as a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and as an Early Childhood Education Consultant (M.A) serving individuals with various communication disorders. I worked in the school system (general and special classrooms) where I consulted with teachers, parents and multidisciplinary teams, both in individual and group settings. As an SLP, I worked as part of a multidisciplinary team assessing and developing Individualized treatment plans for Infants and Toddlers. I also worked with students with Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD), Autism, and severe speech/language disorders. I mentored new SLP practitioners and students. From this time, I became aware of the urgent need of developing an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) service delivery model at public schools and of the need for well-trained Speech and Language Pathologists in the AAC Specialty.
Current Interests: I have decided to specialize in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) by devoting my studies and research work to understanding the language development in children with severe motor and speech disorders who use AAC. I have strengthened my commitment to explore the interplay between typical and atypical language development, in order to implement efficient interventions that consider the various characteristics and constraints of AAC.
Sample Presentation/Publication: Savaldi-Harussi, G., & Soto, G. (2016). Using SALT: Considerations for the Analysis of Language Transcripts of Children Who Use SGDs. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 1(12), 110-124. This paper was published in a special volume dedicated to the topic: “After 25 years of AAC it is still about language.” It lays out the foundation of my research concerning the language acquisition of children who use AAC and describes the consideration for the AAC corpus analysis. I have been working with Dr. Gloria Soto, as a research assistant, in an NIH grant project since Fall 2012. We are investigating the effects of conversation-based intervention on vocabulary acquisition and grammatical skills in children with motor-speech disorders who use AAC. In Fall 2015, I joined the Exchange Program at Stanford University, where I’m participating in Dr. Eve Clark’s first language acquisition lab in the Linguistics department. My dissertation is a secondary analysis of a collected data and focuses on exploring the emergence of verbs and clause construction in children with severe motor and speech disorders who use AAC and on the interplay between typical and atypical language development. Currently, we are working on developing three manuscripts, that I believe will provide a thorough analysis about the production of verbs and clause construction in children who use SGDs and the adult’s role in the co-constructed interaction.
Dissertation Co-Chairs: Dr. Anne Cunningham and Dr. Gloria Soto
Additional information: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gat_Savaldi-Harussi/publications
Think Tank Presentation Topic: The Emergence of Clause Construction in The Production of Children Who Use SGDs During Adult-Child Conversation Interactions.