back to news Nov. 19, 2021

Q&A faculty spotlight: Allison Bean

Allison Bean is an associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Her area of expertise focuses on language development in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and the role of domain-general processes in language development. She received her BA in speech and hearing science from Iona College, an MS in speech-pathology from New York Medical College and PhD in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Ohio. Bean also completed her postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Describe your current research or area of interest

My research focuses on language development in children with autism. In particular, I investigate how to support language learning in minimally verbal children with autism who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to communicate. AAC is used by people who cannot effectively use spoken language to communicate, like Stephen Hawking.

What undergraduate classes do you teach? Why would you encourage students to take these classes, and how might they be of interest to students majoring in other disciplines?

I teach “SPHHRNG 3330: Language Acquisition,” which focuses on typical language development. This class is great for anyone who is interested in language development from infancy through high school. I also teach “SPHHRNG 4530: Introduction to Autism." During this class students learn about autism, neurodiversity and interventions that are used to support autistic people. This class is appropriate for anyone in any discipline. Currently 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism, so there is a good chance students will work with someone who has autism. As such, this class may be of interest to students who plan on going into medicine, teaching and rehabilitation sciences.

What aspects of your teaching give you the most satisfaction?

I really enjoy seeing students apply what they are learning in class to their everyday life.

What book or movie would you recommend, or what music do you enjoy?

I really enjoy jam bands such as Phish, Grateful Dead and Tedeschi Trucks Band.

What is the most interesting place you’ve visited, who has inspired you and/or would you like to share your reflections on an event that influenced you?

I love to travel. One of my most memorable trips was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. There is nothing like camping above the clouds and summiting a mountain during sunrise.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

Not to take myself too seriously.

What advice would you give to undergraduate students?

You don’t need to have everything figured out. Take the time to travel and do all the things that you want to do. There is no right way or right path. Do what is best for you.

When you encourage students to stop by your office hours, what do you most love talking about?

Traveling, books, podcasts and music.

Would you like to share a fun/interesting fact about yourself?

I swim with a master’s swim team.

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