My Heros in the SLP Profession

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I heard you say that Van Riper was your greatest hero of all time in the profession, but then you said you had others that you didn’t mention. Who else do you admire in the field?

What an interesting question! Okay, here are the people that have been the most influential to me, presented in categories that are the most important to my work.


The one-and-only Charles Van Riper wins this top place of honor because he is the Father of Articulation Therapy and because he was brilliant, kind, insightful, caring, a champion of the speech-impaired, and an advocate of school speech therapy. Van Riper might be considered the all time clinician’s clinician. He wrote from his head, from his heart, and from his clinical experience. Everything we do in articulation stems back to his work, and he earned ASHA’s Honors of the Association in 1957. Van Riper’s best material on articulation therapy can be found in two sources––

  • Van Riper, C. (1947) Speech correction: Principles and methods. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
  • Van Riper, C. & Irwin, J. (1958) Voice and articulation. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Oral-Motor/ Feeding Development

Suzanne Evans Morris is the unequivocal Mother of Feeding Therapy and one of my greatest heros of all time. Dr. Morris did the original studies on feeding development upon which we all rely, and she was the one who brought neurodevelopmental treatment procedures (NDT) from England to the United States. Morris modeled a therapist who does what she has been created to do despite the critics. She also showed me how to teach continuing education seminars––make them practical, honest, straightforward, and infused with a deep respect for the audience. Her best material can be found in what many have called “The Bible of Feeding Therapy”––

  • Morris, S. E., & Klein, M. D. (2000). Pre-feeding skills: A comprehensive resource for mealtime development. Austin: Pro-Ed.

Child Development

This honor would have to go to the brilliant Jean Piaget, Father of Children’s Intellectual Development. I studied Piaget’s work on intellectual development in children when I was an undergraduate student getting a minor in psychology and education. Piaget was the one who identified the sensorimotor stage of intelligence upon which all my work rests. The best introduction to Piaget’s theory can be found in––

  • Ginsburg, H., & Opper, S. (1969) Piaget’s Theory of Intellectual Development. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. [I believe there is a newer edition.]


The amazing Jerilyn Logemann must be identified here because she is the Mother of Swallowing Therapy. Dr. Logemann started out in articulation, as so many in her generation did, and she was co-author of the Fisher-Logemann Test of Articulation. Logemann then evolved into dysphagia and wrote what I think was the first text on that topic. She was the one who started our profession’s interest in swallowing, and she is one of those rare professors who know research methodologies and clinic practice. Logemann served as president of ASHA in 1994 and in 2000, and she received ASHA’s Honors of the Association in 2003. Her text––

  • Logemann, J. (1983) Evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders. San Diego: College-Hill.

Infant Vocal Development

I consider the insightful D. Kimbrough Oller to be Father of Infant Vocal Development. Dr. Oller introduced me to the idea that infant vocalizations develop over time, from birth to one year of age. His stages of vocal development formed the basis of all that I understand about phoneme development in children with apraxia and dysarthria. His work has become integrated into virtually all of our modern articulation/phonology texts. I learned of his work when I heard him speak at an ASHA convention in the 1970’s, and then studied it further in his seminal work––

  • Oller, D. K. (1978) “Infant vocalizations and the development of speech.” Allied Health and Behavioral Sciences Journal, 1 (4) Pp. 523-549.

Sensorimotor Integration

The talented A. Jean Ayres should be considered Mother of Sensorimotor Integrative Theory. Dr. Ayres was a practicing occupational therapist when she got her doctorate in neurology (or neurophysiology, I’m not really sure). She developed the theory that children with apraxia are having difficulty organizing sensations from the tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems. Anyone who has taken any of my classes on articulation or apraxia knows how I integrate this information into my work. To me, Ayres’ insights are the missing element about children’s motor speech disorders that researchers in our profession stubbornly refuse to consider even to this very day. Ayres best introductory work––

  • Ayres, A. J. (1980) Sensory Integration and the Child. Los Angeles: Western Psychological. [There also may be a later edition of this book.]


I have two great heros in this category: Willard R. Zemlin and Raymond H. Stetson. I studied anatomy, physiology, embryology, and teratology with Dr. Zemlin as a student. He was a brilliant man who wrote the most important speech and hearing science text of his generation. Stetson is considered the first great speech scientist of the 20th century. He was the one who postulated that all speech is movement. Those of you who know me recognize that this idea is the very cornerstone of all the work I have done throughout my entire career. Texts–

  • Zemlin, W. R. (1968, 1981) Speech and Hearing Science: Anatomy and physiology. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Stetson’s text:
  • Stetson, R. (1928, 1951) Motor Phonetics. USA: North Holland Publishing
  • Kelso, J. A. S., & Munhall, K. G. (Eds.) (1988).  R. H. Stetson’s Motor Phonetics: A Retrospective Edition. Boston: College-Hill.

Orofacial Myology

I have several heros in this area. I was introduced to the concept of orofacial myology first by taking seminars with the infamous Daniel Garliner, a character considered a charlatan by many, a man who eventually was disgraced and forced to distance himself from the field of SLP (for exactly what reasons I do not know). Despite his faults, whatever they were, he was a caring clinician who talked about speech movement during a time when very few did. I then got deeper into orofacial myology by taking seminars taught by instructors from the International Association of Orofacial Myology. Two of the men I admire in this area are Marvin Hanson––who also wrote a basic text in articulation therapy––and Richard Barrett. These men wrote the first widely disseminated text on orofacial myofunctional therapy. I later was introduced to the work of Dr. Robert Mason, a man I admire who is both a dentist and an SLP, the only one in the world I believe. Texts––

  • Garliner, D. (1981) Myofunctional Therapy. Coral Gables: Institute for Myofunctional Therapy.
  • Hanson, M. L., & Barrett, R. H. (1988) Fundamentals of orofacial myology. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.
  • Hanson, M. L., & Mason, R. M. (2003) Orofacial Myology: International Perspectives. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.


Elaine Pagel Paden and Barbara Williams Hodson have to be on the top of my phonology list. Dr. Paden supervised Dr. Hodson’s doctoral dissertation, and they both supervised my master’s thesis in phonology. Dr. Paden modeled for me a scholar dedicated to the profession, she taught me how to write, and she had to be the most logical and organized professor I ever had. Dr. Hodson is one of those wonderful professors who understands clinical work. Hodson and Paden’s practical little book on the application of phonological theory to speech therapy is a must-read for all SLPs involved with children––

  • Hodson, B. W., & Paden, E. P. (1983, 1991) Targeting Intelligible Speech. San Diego: College-Hill.

0 thoughts on “My Heros in the SLP Profession”

  1. In 2007 I wrote this and it was published in the ASHA Leader:
    Van Riper Lives – Pass it On!
    By Dixie C. Branscum, M.C.D., CCC-SLP

    I am proud to admit that I am a “Van Riper-ized” SLP serving public schools; however; that’s not to say I am “so last year” as Wayne Secord has mentioned in previous presentations (i.e., Schools Conference 2005). I am excited about informing you that I encountered Dr. Charles Van Riper’s spirit! Now, before you think I’m into séances or some hallucinogenic drug, let me explain.

    My husband and I are Habitat Partners of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). Although I am not a hunter, I enjoy the outdoors and support conserving, restoring, and enhancing natural habitats through the foundation. Last week we attended our first Summer Habitat Council retreat in Missoula, Montana (RMEF international headquarters & Elk Country Visitors Center). My husband is very active on the council and quite knowledgeable about RMEF’s inner-workings (plus he is an avid elk hunter). Therefore, I have been exposed to RMEF vicariously. Needless to say, I was a bit intimidated and apprehensive about being in the presence of RMEF board members, RMEF staff, Habitat Council Members, and passionate elk hunters from all over the United States. I certainly would have felt much more comfortable exchanging stories about finding effective ways to help struggling students in the classroom setting. So, on the first day of the meeting, I quietly observed “the situation” and attempted to absorb as much information as my brain would allow.

    On the second day of our meeting we divided into groups and took guided tours just outside Missoula and discussed land management/conservation and the preservation of elk. The driver of our van was an attorney named Grant Parker who serves RMEF as VP of Legal/General Counsel/Lands & Conservation. On the last leg of our tour I sat in the front seat and engaged in conversation with Grant. He is a personable and knowledgeable young man who freely shares his vision and his passion for habitat stewardship, land protection, conservation education, and elk restoration. Grant may have sensed that I was on overload which may have prompted him to ask me what I do. So, with relief, I proudly announced that I am a speech-language pathologist serving public schools. To my surprise, he told me that both his parents were speech-language pathologists (although they are now retired). What a treat! Now, I really have something to talk about! Since the Parkers were in the Montana University setting, I asked if they had written any books or articles or discovered any cures. Grant said, “No, but my God-Father did. Do you know Charles Van Riper?” All of time stood still for a moment. Honestly, you could have blown me over with an elk bugle!

    Grant shared a few memories about Van, especially “taking long walks in the woods”. Grant reported that he was the subject of one of the chapters in one of “Van’s” books, although he doesn’t know which one. Grant explained that his parents “didn’t know what to do” with him because he wouldn’t speak as a child. So they relied on their friend and Grant’s god-father, Dr. Charles Van Riper, one of the founding fathers of speech pathology.

    For the past five years, the primary fundraising campaign slogan of RMEF has been “Pass it On!” which refers to the preservation of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. One of my friends who is not only a passionate RMEF volunteer but considered “the Elk Lady of Arkansas”, recently quipped, “The whole world evolves around elk”. From MY view, “the whole world evolves around speech-language pathology”. Interesting the two should meet! So again, a “tiny impact has been felt all over the world” (last line of Van Riper’s “auto-eulogy”). Pass it On!

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.