About Heather L. Ramsdell, PhD, CCC-SLP, ALT in Training
Heather is a tenured, associate professor of speech-language pathology in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Idaho State University (ISU). Her teaching and research interests span the topics of phonetics, phonology, infant vocal development, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and dyslexia. Specifically, Heather is laying the groundwork for working with local educators (e.g., speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, school counselors, primary and secondary school teachers, special educators, educational psychologists, administrators, etc.) to provide knowledge about dyslexia, aid in earlier identification of school children with dyslexia, and enhance/improve reading education curriculum.
In addition to being an academic, a teacher, and a researcher, Heather is a mother. Her children are her world, and the motivation for her recent shift in focus professionally from infant vocal development to dyslexia. Her son, who began receiving speech-language pathology services for a phonological processing disorder at the age of 3, and occupational therapy services for visual-motor integration and coordination difficulties at the age of 4, was also diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 5. At that time, her personal and professional interest in dyslexia was piqued.
She quickly learned that there were no Certified Academic Language Therapists (CALTs) or dyslexia specialists in/around Southeastern Idaho where she lives. She was lucky to find a CALT willing to work with her son via Zoom from 2 hours away. Upon further investigation, it became apparent that there was a tremendous need for services to help struggling readers and those with dyslexia in Eastern Idaho, as with much of the United States. Heather was motivated.
In following her new-found passion, Heather consulted with colleagues whose expertise lies in the area of literacy and began to brainstorm ways to bring about change to Southeastern Idaho; change to benefit struggling readers and those with dyslexia.
So, her journey into the world of dyslexia began, which just so happens to rely heavily on her areas of expertise in phonetics and child phonology (and her personal obsession with children’s books). In the summer of 2021, she began her training to become a CALT. Per the International Dyslexia Association, training to become a CALT requires, among other things, 200 classroom hours with a Qualified Instructor (QI) of CALTs, 700 clinical practicum hours, and sitting for/passing a national examination. She has ambitions of continuing on to become a QI after obtaining her certificaiton, so that she can teach students who are studying to become speech-language pathologists about structured literacy intervention. She now provides the Scottish Rite’s Pre-flight (for children 6 years of age and younger) and Take Flight (for children 7 years of age and older) curriculum to struggling readers/individuals with dyslexia through her private business, Once Upon a Time LLC.