Auburn Family

Inspiration for Communication Disorders

Inspiration can come in many different forms. Some people can be inspired by a song heard on the radio, while others get their inspiration from movies. Some can be inspired through watching people succeed, while others are inspired by a major life experience. In Rachel Coffey’s case, the inspiration comes from experience.


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Coffey is a senior at Auburn University and is majoring in Communication Disorders. When Rachel enrolled at Auburn, her plan was to become an architect. However, this all changed when her mother encouraged her to volunteer at the Bell Center in Birmingham, Ala.

Coffey said her mother has always talked about how she wanted to be a speech pathologist growing up, but the college that she attended did not offer it. While volunteering at the Bell Center, Coffey assisted a speech pathologist that was on staff and fell in love with the field. She decided to switch her major when she went back to school and has gained much experience during that time.

Coffey said, “We volunteered at the Bell Center in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s an early intervention program for children 0 to 3 with any type of disability.”

In the fall of 2010, Coffey was a junior clinician at the Auburn Speech and Hearing Clinic, and this semester she and a partner have their own client. Coffey works with the child on clearly pronouncing initial consonants.
An exercise that is helpful in doing this is counting numbers. Coffey also teaches the child where to place his tongue and articulators in order to pronounce the correct sound. She aids the child by using a puppet for a visual of where the tongue should be placed when speaking.

Speech pathology is a field that one must have much experience in if they strive to be successful. Speech pathologists work with clients who have articulation disorders, language disorders, or problems with swallowing. They must know how speech and sound are produced, as well as studying the anatomy of the larynx. Speech pathologists must also be able to screen kids for hearing. If a child cannot hear what is being said, they will not be able to pronounce words correctly. Because of this, speech pathologists must know all about audiology.

After graduation, Coffey must go to graduate school for two years. She will get her Masters in Speech Pathology, and will then start looking for a job. She is currently getting a concentration in Special Education in order to better understand some of her clients and how to work with them. In the future, Coffey’s dream would be to work with special needs children who struggle with speech problems.

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Tags: communication disorders, inspiration, rachel coffey

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