An Afternoon with Dr. Shameka Stanford, Juvenile Forensic Speech-Language Pathologist

On Wednesday, October 16, COMPASS hosted Dr. Shameka Stanford from Howard University to provide an opportunity for COMPASS staff to learn about how to support disconnected youth with communication disorders. Speech-Language Pathologists specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders. Dr. Stanford is the first juvenile forensic speech-language pathologist in the United States, a position that is more common in other countries. In her work, she focuses on the intersection of communication disorders and youth who are at risk for delinquency. This complex topic also explores in-depth internal, family, socio-economic, cultural, peer, and neighborhood factors that can create obstacles for youth. Dr. Stanford highlighted that “language and learning disorders can impact a student’s communication and comprehension status in a way that impairs their ability to fully participate in all aspects of the academic setting.”

Dr. Stanford engaged COMPASS staff to think critically about how their role as special educators can have a positive influence on disrupting the “school-to-confinement pipeline.” She introduced scenarios that challenged COMPASS staff to identify potential issues, the role staff can and should play, and potential interventions that can be initiated to assist students. Dr. Stanford also encouraged COMPASS staff to deeply consider “what narrative is being written about the students; what role might a communication disorder play in this narrative?” Finally, Dr. Stanford reinforced the importance of staff being oriented to the trauma histories of COMPASS’s youth and families.

COMPASS is enthusiastic about continuing its partnership with Dr. Stanford to provide additional ways to support the youth and families COMPASS serves on a daily basis.

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