Advocacy Day: Caregiver Perspectives - Essential Team Members

Updated: Apr 15



Advocacy Day 2022 is a virtual, asynchronous conference Sponsored by MSHA and co-organized by the University of Montana Chapter of NSSLHA: Available April 22 – May 1, 2022


Register Today! Free CEU Event for Students and MSHA Members


Working with Caregivers as a Special Education Teacher

Cristal Burnett, M.S. Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education, Special Educator for Missoula County Public Schools

45-minute session offered for .075 ASHA CEUs

Working with Caregivers is a presentation about the different considerations that are important when working with a variety of families and caregivers from the perspective of a special education teacher. Working with families as they are introduced to the special education process can be an emotional and unique experience. Involving families while at school and in the home can promote healthy development and encourage successful outcomes. Participants will be able to: 1) Describe caregiver supports in the context of early intervention. 2) Identify resources for caregivers in early intervention. 3) Explain the need to individualize support, education, and training, to each caregiver-child unit. 4) Describe the role of special education teachers in caregiver support in the context of early intervention.

Cristal Burnett is an early childhood special education teacher, born and raised in Missoula, MT. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the University of Montana, and earned a Master of Science in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Oregon. Cristal is currently in her fourth year as a lead special education teacher with students ages 3-5 in Missoula County Public Schools. In her role as a special-education teacher, she has worked with Head Start to provide special education services, supports transitioning students to kindergarten, and she is currently serving on the evaluation/diagnostic team for Jefferson Preschool.

For financial disclosures: Cristal Burnett is a mentor for a colleague completing a student teaching and master’s degree through UM and has earned credits to advance her salary scale. For nonfinancial disclosures: She is also attending a fellowship through Zero to Five which is involved with the College of Education.


Caring for Caregivers of Person’s with Aphasia as the Speech Language Pathologist

Jenna Griffin, CCC-SLP, Clinical Assistant Professor School of Speech-Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences, Director Big Sky Aphasia Program

50-minute runtime offered for.075 ASHA CEUs

Family caregivers of persons with communication disorders experience a cascade of hardships secondary to their loved one’s condition. Care partners experience psychological and physical health complications, yet frequently lack access to education and care, especially in rural settings like Montana.

For caregivers of persons with aphasia (PWA), decreased ability to communicate significantly hinders PWA’s abilities to resume their pre-stroke social, vocational, or educational roles, often increasing their reliance upon family caregivers for daily communication. These family members are often left to cope with substantial difficulties with few therapeutic supports.

This talk will describe a family caregiver education and training program in an Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAP) at the University of Montana. The caregiver education group was designed to improve psychosocial health and to increase knowledge about stroke recovery, aphasia, neuroplasticity, facilitative communication strategies, and resources. Caregivers attend a weekly caregiver education group, twice weekly caregiver counseling group, and various transactional communication opportunities.

This talk will detail communication strategies for family care partners of individuals with aphasia, and discuss positive outcomes associated with the ICAP caregiver education program. Reflections from previous participants will be shared that demonstrate family caregivers have more confidence and feel better informed following the caregiver education program.

In this presentation, participants will learn about education, training, and support for family caregivers of people with aphasia. Participants will be able to: 1) explain why caregivers are essential team members in speech-language treatment for people with aphasia. 2) Describe family caregiver education and training in the context of an Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program. 3) Identify communication strategies for family care partners of individuals with aphasia.

Jenna Griffin is a clinical assistant professor in the school of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences at the University of Montana, and serves as co-director of the Big Sky Aphasia Program. She is also part of the Brain Research for Aphasia and Intensive Rehabilitation (BRAIN) lab at the University of Montana. Jenna completed graduate training at the University of Montana, then gained clinical experience working with persons with acquired communication disorders and their family care partners in the hospital setting before returning to the University of Montana as a faculty member in 2015. Her areas of interest include evidence-based practice for acquired neurologic communication disorders, deficit-related counseling and caregiver education, and investigation of principles of neuroplasticity for aphasia rehabilitation.

For financial disclosures: Jenna Griffin is receiving a salary from the University of Montana.

For nonfinancial disclosures, Jenna Griffin is the director of Big Sky Aphasia Program.


Meeting Caregiver Communication Needs

Christina G. Yoshimura, M.A., Ph.D., LCPC Communication Professor and Counseling Professional

30-minute runtime offered for .05 ASHA CEUs

Caregivers come into contact with many professionals in working with and caring for their loved ones. Effective communication is an important part of building rapport with both clients and caregivers and can greatly affect caregiver support and participation as a member of the treatment team. In this presentation, participants will learn ways to communicate with caregivers to build that relationship. Participants will be able to: 1) Explain resonance and its importance in communicating with family caregivers. 2) Identify Communication behaviors important to building resonance. 3) Describe ways to reduce uncertainty, accommodate communication needs for the caregiver, recognize competing tensions, and remain an active listener.

Dr. Yoshimura focuses her research on how various subsystems of the family communicate as they engage external systems; including workplaces, schools, and the justice system. Dr. Yoshimura also maintains a focus on applied communication skills and mental health, using her advanced degrees and background in communication studies and clinical mental health to engage in research and teaching on and off campus at the intersection of interpersonal communication and mental health. She has published over a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, including a recent article specifically addressing the role of communication in working with survivors of domestic violence, and another examining the role of storytelling in the experience of family bereavement.

Disclosures: Dr. Yoshimura has no financial or non-financial disclosures.


For more information, please contact Amy Glaspey, MSHA President, MSHAPresident@gmail.com




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