Julie Leonardo
Saturday, September 10, 2016

Professor Emerita, Lesley B. Olswang was awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA) Honors of the Association for 2016. This award recognizes ASHA members for their distinguished contributions to the discipline of communication sciences and disorders and is the highest honor the Association bestows. Awardees are well-known throughout the nation and the world for a lifetime of innovative clinical practice, insightful and rigorous research, creative administration, effective legislative activity, and outstanding teaching. 

Dr. Olswang spent her 37 year academic career entirely at the University of Washington in the SPHSC Department. She served as Associate Chair/Graduate Program Coordinator for 10 years (1995 until 2005), taught over 20 different courses and seminars, and mentored numerous doctoral students. She received her B.S. degree from Northwestern University (1969), her M.S. degree from the University of Illinois (1971), and her Ph.D. degree from the University of Washington (1978), all in the area of Communication Sciences and Disorders with an emphasis in Speech/Language Pathology. Dr. Olswang also holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech, Language, Hearing Association in the area of Speech-Language Pathology. 


Dr. Olswang has had extensive clinical and research experience with children with language disorders.  Her research has included two primary populations:  young school-age children and children below the age of three.  Her school-age research has examined the social communication of children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as they participate in classroom activities.  Her research with children below the age of three has focused on two specific populations: toddlers diagnosed with specific language impairment and most recently infants diagnosed with severe physical disabilities. She has been investigating the benefits of treatment with these children and their families, particularly attempting to determine readiness factors that might predict when children and families will best benefit from different intervention options. 

She is currently examining a treatment designed to teach gaze shift to very young children with severe physical impairments as an early signal of communication.  Several feasibility studies and a randomized control study have shown promise for this research under controlled laboratory conditions.  Current research is exploring the fidelity of this treatment in birth-to-three centers.  Her research has been supported by grants from the University of Washington, the Washington State Association for Retarded Citizens, the US Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. 

Awards & Honors

Dr. Olswang won the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award in 1983.  She received a Fulbright Scholar Award to study in Great Britain from September 1994-February 1995, and during this time she taught and conducted research at the University of Reading and University of Edinburgh. In 1996 she was made a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Olswang won the Washington State Speech, Language and Hearing Association (WSLHA) Clinical Achievement Award in 2004 and the UW Distinguished Mentor Award in 2005. She was made a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Foundation in 2012. 

Dr. Olswang’s research has been published in a variety of national journals, and she has been the recipient of three Editor’s Awards from journals published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  These awards included the 1986 and 1991 Editor’s Award from Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, and the 1996 Editor’s Award from the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology

Please join us in congratulating and recognizing Dr. Olswang for her outstanding and impactful clinical and research career focused on young children with language disorders. Her achievements have truly enhanced the field and the quality of our profession. We will celebrate her achievements at the ASHA Convention in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, November 18th, at the Marriott Downtown at 8:00 p.m.