Following a Father's Footsteps


As a young boy living in Stevens Point in the 1970s, Jim Barge suffered from disfluency in speaking—the smoothness or flow with which sounds, syllables, words and phrases are joined together when speaking quickly. His parents turned to the UW-Stevens Point Center for Communicative Disorders for treatment for their son.
 
After successful treatment by the clinic staff and School of Communicative Disorders students, Jim overcame his disfluency. “They did a wonderful job and lifted a big burden from my young shoulders.” That success resulted in Jim’s father, Daryl, reaching out for help for his own disfluency problem at the Center for Communicative Disorders.
 
Donna Christensen, Amanda Barge, Jim BargeJim stayed in Point and graduated from UWSP in 1990 with a B.S. in political science. Fast forward a few years, Jim was married and raising two young children when he decided to switch careers to speech-language pathology—and what better place to do that than where he was treated years ago.
 
But Jim wasn’t the typical communicative disorders student; he didn’t really fit the stereotype of the 22-year-old female-dominated discipline. Still, he felt right at home in the program thanks to his time as a client in the clinic and the people surrounding him.

“I fit in very well and that’s a credit to the faculty,” said Jim, crediting faculty members Don Aylesworth, Dennis Nash and Judith Pratt. “They are all wonderful advocates for this field.”
 
As a past client, Jim was able to provide a perspective that most other students couldn’t. After earning his B.S. in communicative disorders, Jim completed his master’s degree in 1997. 
•Point of Pride•
The Center for Communicative Disorders provides unique services and helps residents on a fee waiver who may have lost insurance coverage. Annually, approximately 150 clients are seen at the center for speech and language services. In addition, the center sees nearly 100 patients in its hearing clinic where individuals hearing is evaluated and they are fitted with hearing aids, if needed.

More than 10 years passed when the time came for Jim’s daughter Amanda to look at colleges. As an honors student, Amanda had her choice of colleges including UW-Madison but the moment the family toured UWSP, she was bound to be a Pointer. Faculty and staff remembered Jim by name; in fact, Clinical Associate Professor Donna Christensen still uses one of his student reports as an example of good clinical writing for her student clinicians.
   
“Jim was juggling his responsibilities as a full-time student, part-time employee and parent,” remembered Christensen. “Little did I know that the toddler he brought around the department would turn out to be an excellent student in our program, just like her father.”
“It may be cliché to say this program is a family, but it truly is a very close-nit group,” said Jim, who works with six other UWSP alumni speech-language pathologists at Theda Clark in Neenah.
 
For Amanda, it may have been inevitable that she follow in her father’s footsteps. “Growing up, my dad would bring the memory and cognitive tests home,” she recalled. “I loved hearing my dad talk about the profession.”
 
Jim is one proud father and Pointer alum. “Speech-language pathology has been a wonderful field and it’s been an honor to see Amanda take the same thing up,” said Jim. Amanda ’12, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in just three years, plans to attend grad school then work in a hospital setting or medical field like her dad.
 
“It is gratifying to see first-hand how Jim’s professional preparation and experience have influenced Amanda,” said Christensen. “The Barge legacy carries on!”