Going to college with a speech or language disorder can be daunting. For many students, this may be the first time that you have to advocate for yourself to get the support you need in the classroom. You may be hesitant to talk with others, making it more challenging to make friends and form new relationships. While some students don’t find that their studies or personal life are impacted by their speech disability, for others it can be challenging to complete projects with oral components, effectively participate in class discussion, or ease the nervousness they feel when speaking to their peers.
Whether your goal is to advocate for alternative assignments, improve a speech, language, or communication disorder, or make friends with others who share and understand your disorder, there are resources out there for you. What is available to you may differ depending on your school, all universities will have some options for students with a wide variety of speech, language, and communication disorders. This guide will explain the resources that you may find on campus and how to find them.
Student Disability Services
A resource you will find on every campus is a student disability services department. Work with this department and your teachers to determine if you can complete oral requirements for your classes in a written way or through other alternatives. If you have a communicative disorder that makes reading and writing difficult, this department will help accommodate you in these situations as well. They may even be able to equip you with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools such as laptops with voice synthesizing or more traditional AAC boards.
To benefit from student disability services, you will need to apply for services and demonstrate that you have a disability. Contact the department do learn how to apply and what you need.
On Campus Speech and Hearing Clinics
Check to see if your school has a communicative sciences and disorders department. If so, there is likely a speech and hearing clinic right on your campus. The clinic will be able to offer you a wide array of speech therapy services, often at a reduced rate. Furthermore, the CSD department may offer group therapy and support group services to students that will allow you to form relationships with other students that share your disability- specific offerings will vary by school. To best understand what your school offers, contact the CSD department directly. Below you will find a sampling of different programs that some campuses offer:
Resources for College Students who Stutter
Avoidance Reduction Therapy: This therapy helps patients who stutter become confident, efficient speakers. It aims to help those who stutter overcome the enormous amount of mental energy they put into fearing and avoiding stuttering. At some schools, group therapy is available to students who stutter and want to practice their speaking skills together, like University of Maryland’s Avoidance Reduction Group Therapy
Stuttering Support Groups: Some schools offer stuttering support groups, where those who stutter can meet in a group session and also get the opportunity for individual therapy sessions. The groups may offer avoidance reduction therapy, fluency, coaching, and other techniques. Support groups allow you to meet others who stutter and build relationships with people who share that experience.
Stuttering Apps: The Stuttering Foundation has a great list of apps designed for those who stutter, including fluency coaching apps and other useful tools. These apps can help you practice your speaking to reduce instances of stuttering. Apps are cheaper alternatives to speech monitoring devices, which can cost several thousand dollars.
Stuttering Blog: The My Stutter Video Series shares stories and experiences from adults and teens who stutter. The videos offer inspiration from successful fellow stutterers and advice from real life personal experiences. You also have the opportunity to share your own story and be a source of wisdom and inspiration to others.
Stuttering Podcasts: If you want a weekly podcast offering a wide range of information, expertise, and perspective on stuttering, StutterTalk is a great podcast to check out. For women, there is also Women Who Stutter, which provides a place for women to share their thoughts and feelings about stuttering, as the stuttering community as a whole is mostly male.
Stuttering Associations: The National Stuttering Association is the largest non-profit in the world specifically supporting people who stutter, their families, and the professionals who help them through research, advocacy, and education. The Stuttering Foundation is another great organization that aims to help make the best stuttering treatments available to adults and teens.
Resources for College Students with Voice Therapy Needs
Voice Therapy for Transgender Students: Many schools are now offering therapy sessions for transgender students looking to express themselves in their most authentic voices. These programs may offer one on one therapy sessions as well as support groups. Support groups are a great way to meet others, share thoughts and feelings, and find strength through others going through the same experience.
Neurological Voice Disorder Therapy: Therapy options exist that can help with neurological voice disorders such as spasmodic dysphonia. If you have a disorder that affects the strength of your voice or your control over your voice, this therapy may be able to help you improve your speech.
Voice Disorder Blog: If you are looking for a perspective on voice disorders geared towards speech professionals, A Tempo Voice Center offers a blog that shares news, research, and general information about voice disorders. While not specifically written for those who have voice disorders themselves, the information is interesting if you want to learn more about these disorders.
Online AAC for Voice Disorders: If you have trouble speaking loudly or clearly in class, there are apps and programs that can help. iSpeech is one resource that provides a free online service that takes text that you type and turns it into speech. The app store also has many voice amplifiers that take your spoken words and make them louder. There are also apps available that allow you to customize picture boards to aid your communication.
Voice Disorder Associations: The Voice Foundation supports resource and education surrounding voice disorders. It is the most prominent, oldest organization of its kind with specific intent to improve diagnosis, treatment, science, education, and general awareness of voice disorders. If you are interested in a career helping others with voice disorders, there are local chapters you can join.
Resources for College Students with Aphasia
Aphasia Therapy Groups: These groups, such as The College of Saint Rose’s umbrella of Traumatic Brain Injury-Stroke Services, can help you with various aphasia-related issues, including writing, reading, listening, thinking, and conversation. Joining a therapy group is a great way to meet other people who are facing the challenges that aphasia entails- not only do you get therapy offered by a professional, you get wisdom, advice, and support from others going through the same experience.
Traumatic Brain Injury Support Groups: Some campus speech and hearing clinics offer support groups (for example, NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation) where those with aphasia can come together and interact with others affected by aphasia. Interacting in a setting where others are dealing with the same language disorder is a good way to let your guard down while practicing communication with others, get advice, and find support.
Associations: The National Aphasia Association is an association that advocates for patients and families affected by aphasia, promoting community as well as research and education. For those who have aphasia caused by a brain injury, the Brain Injury Association of America, Brain Trauma Foundation, International Brain Injury Association also advocate for those affected by such injuries.
Aphasia Podcast: Aphasia Access is a good source of information on resources, advice, and inspiration for aphasia patients. There is also good information on funding strategies for support groups if you are interested in starting a group of your own. Each episode features a different guest with extensive knowledge in the field.
Aphasia Scholarship: The Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship available to college students who have survived a traumatic brain injury. Applicants must be US citizens and enrolled in or accepted to an accredited US university. The application submission deadline is in July of each year.
Aphasia Blog: Blue Banana is a blog written by the husband of a woman who suffered from stroke in early 2017. The blog details the aftermath of the stroke and her recovery since, including the aphasia that she has had to deal with. If you are looking for a detailed personal account of aphasia’s effect on everyday life, this is a great place to go.
Resources for College Students with Autism and Communicative Disorders
Social Interaction Groups: There are groups available on many campuses that can help you with social interaction skills such as conversation, listening, body language, making friends, and interviewing. These skills will help you build personal and professional relationships outside of the groups, while getting the opportunity to meet people with the same social interaction difficulties inside the group.
Apps: Many Augmentative and Alternative Communication apps exist that offer resources such as digital AAC boards that you can customize. These are easy to take to class for times that you may not be able to effectively verbally communicate. The section of this page dedicated to voice disorders also lists other useful AAC resources if you are interested in text to speech tools.
College Autism Network: The College Autism Network (CAN) is dedicated to making autistic students feel confident in their ability to pursue and receive a degree, ensure that colleges are appreciative of and accommodating to autistic students, and maximizing outcomes for these students through training, research and advocacy. CAN is also largely open access, making the materials and resources they develop free and accessible to the public.
Associations: There are several great associations dedicated to autism research, education, and advocacy. The Autism Society is an organization that is responsible for much local, state, and national autism legislation. The National Autism Association provides AAC to those who need it and other resources and toolkits for those with autism and their families. The American Autism Association is another source of resources and advocacy that also offers a good selection of autism related grants and scholarships.
Communicative Disorder Scholarships: There are many scholarships available to students with autism who are looking to pursue a college degree, including several scholarship lists where you can find these scholarships. New scholarship opportunities come up frequently, so doing a google search can help you find new additional opportunities.
Resources for College Students with Executive Functioning Disorders
Thought Organization: Your school may offer programs as BGSU does for students who have trouble reading for class, writing papers, and staying organized. If you find that you have issues in these areas that affect your ability to complete assignments or properly plan, these programs can help you improve these skills. Many of these programs are low cost or free of charge.
Strategies: If you are not looking to enroll in a program to improve your executive function skills, there are simple tips and tricks you can use to help yourself improve your memory and organization. Just reading these strategies can help you find ways to improve executive function. University of Michigan also has a great list of strategies for improving executive function that you can quickly read and learn.
Executive Function Apps: Several apps exist that can aid in executive function related tasks such as planning and organizing. From simple calendar or alarm apps to more complex organizational apps to rehabilitative activity apps, there are many ways to plan and stay organized right on your smartphone.
Blog: Want an ongoing source of new executive function information? The Executive Functioning Success blog and Executive Functioning Strategies blog are two great blogs that are frequently updated and completely dedicated to offering information and advice about executive function.
Organizational Podcasts: Want to take executive function to the next level? There are many organizational podcasts focusing on how to maximize productivity and get things done. Many of these feature inspirational guests, interesting data, and simple hacks for maximizing time usage and work product.