Kathleen “Kat” Stremel Thomas, Research Fellow at The Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, now calls Parsons home, both personally and professionally. Educated at Kansas State University with degrees in Speech Pathology and Audiology, Kat has more than 35 years of experience in the area of communication and language assessment, intervention and evaluation for infants, children, and youth with severe disabilities and deaf-blindness.
Kat recently stepped down as the Project Director for the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness in order to devote her time to conducting research and intervention activities with children who are deaf-blind with cochlear implants. Twenty-seven states are collaborating with Kat and her colleagues on the cochlear implant research. They are also using the Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) system to collect outcome data.
Based on her extensive experience working with families and children as a speech and language pathologist, Kat has written numerous articles and conducts workshops nationally and internationally.
Current projects include Steppingstones of Technology Innovation for Children with Disabilities, Influencing Outcomes for Children Who Are Deaf-Blind with Cochlear Implants, and Outcomes for Children Who Are Deaf-Blind After Cochlear Implantation.
About her current research, Kat says: “ At heart, I am an interventionist! I love working directly with the children, their families, and the service providers in their natural environments and seeing the positive outcomes. For many children with deafness and severe vision impairments, the cochlear implants are an amazing technology. Ten years ago many of these children would have been using inappropriate behaviors to communicate and now many are using speech both receptively and expressively. My colleagues and I are especially excited about the new LENA technology that allows us to capture the auditory environment, the parent’s speech to the child and the frequency of the child’s vocalizations in their natural environments.”
Kat is also enjoying collaborations with agencies and Part C professionals in Kansas. With her new office at the Life Span Institute at Parsons, a new courtesy position with the University of Kansas, and house hunting with husband, Paul, Kat’s settling into life in Southeast Kansas.