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Reflecting on the Impact of Professor Joe Reichle’s Career

May 23, 2017

Portrait of Dr. Joe Reichle

Portrait of Dr. Joe Reichle
Photo by Dr. Edward Carney.

Dr. Joe Reichle is an internationally recognized expert in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention for learners with significant developmental disabilities. He brings together expertise in applied behavior analysis and speech language pathology to develop interventions for individuals with severe developmental disabilities, challenging problem behavior by employing positive behavior to reduce negative behavior. The author of more than 100 publications, multiple books and chapters, and numerous federally funded research and training grants, Dr. Reichle has made an impact on many individuals, their families, their educators, and their speech-language pathologists (SLPs). His work will have a lasting influence on the functional skills and quality of life for children with moderate to severe developmental disabilities and their families.

Contributions to Advances in AAC

Dr. Reichle's research focuses on developmental disabilities in children such as severe autism spectrum disorder. He describes the main areas of his work as alternative communication methods, problem behavior, and intervention. Dr. Reichle works on AAC options, such as providing the child with an alternative mode of speech, often technologically-housed on a phone, tablet, or laptop. Many behavioral issues are a result of the lack of a mode for individuals to communicate their wants and needs. Dr. Reichle describes his intervention strategy as "packaging up" AAC and problem behavior tactics into an easily used and understood process for parents and children to use to improve their communication and thus the child's behavior.

Dr. Reichle describes how much he's seen the field grow throughout his career, especially in the area of AAC. His areas of expertise were just being considered part of the scope of practice of SLP when he began his career; now, AAC is considered mainstream. "Within the last 10 years there's been an explosion," he says. So much of AAC depends on the strength of technology, and since technological advancements have been so profound in the last decade, it's made an incredible impact upon this field. "Things are being micronized," Reichle explains, "what used to need an entire expensive computer programs is now an app, and with multiple programmers creating these apps a competitive market is emerging that is driving prices down, making this communication available to more populations."

Role as a Mentor

Dr. Reichle says that the growing industry has created a strong need for students that are specifically taught and trained in this mode of communication. He has taught hundreds of SLPs and mentored dozens of PhD students during his career. Reichle continues to spend a lot of his time interacting directly with students; just this past year he advised three doctoral students in special education, and helped mentor another PhD student, who successfully obtained a doctoral dissertation fellowship. He not only works with Speech-Language Hearing Science (SLHS) majors, but also special education, psychology, and child development majors. "I'm very big on interdisciplinary work," he says. "I'm interested in bringing students together."

Plans for the future

Dr. Reichle plans to retire following Spring 2018 semester. During the past year, he has accomplished much and is taking care of unfinished business in preparation for his retirement. Recently, he wrote a successful renewal of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) grant. Reichle served as director of the LEND Program, an interdisciplinary leadership training program that spans 16 disciplines across the University of Minnesota and is funded by the Maternal Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota Association of Applied Behavioral Analysts (the first winner of this award from the speech and language pathology discipline) and was appointed chair of the U.S. Department of Education's special education grant review committee. We congratulate Professor Reichle for all he has done this past year and for his accomplishments during his 36 years at the University of Minnesota.

Professor Reichle recognizes the need for PhDs trained in clinical areas of the discipline and appreciates that the Leslie E. Glaze Graduate Fellowship was created to support these students. He requests that donations to the Glaze fund be made in his name for those who want to celebrate his career.

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.