A Personal and Professional Team
This research duo shares their work as well as their personal life
One of the McKay School’s most outstanding research teams capably studies, writes, and advocates regarding social and emotional challenges of children with language impairment. Martin Fujiki and Bonnie Brinton are a married couple who are both professors in the Department of Communication Disorders.
Fujiki and Brinton were awarded the Frank R. Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award by the Utah Speech-Language-Hearing Association (USHA) for their 30 years of contributions to research and clinical practice. “When we started it was considered a bit lunatic fringe to look at the social and emotional competence of kids with language impairment,” Fujiki said. “Most people didn’t recognize it as an important issue in the 80s or 90s, whereas now it is finally accepted.”
Their studies on language impairment also led to their recent publication, Listening to children and young people with speech language and communication needs, in the United Kingdom. Fujiki said its purpose is to give a voice to different kinds of handicaps and share each child’s story from their own perspective. Fujiki hopes people finally realize that children with language impairment have a real disability. “When you catch them in the right environment, you might never know they have this kind of problem because it doesn’t show when you look at them,” Fujiki said.
Being both a professional team and a married couple, Brinton and Fujiki spend most of their time together. Fujiki said people around them find this unusual, but they enjoy it and have found that being married provides an effective balance for their highly successful collaborative work. “It seems like it’s an ideal thing to work with your spouse all of the time,” Fujiki said. “We’ve always been a team working in the field together, even before we were married.”
Fujiki credited the McKay School and the Department of Communication Disorders for providing support through research assistance and equipment to help their work flourish. Brinton and Fujiki plan to continue their work with hopes of making additional contributions in the near future. “Working with children with language problems motivates and interests me even more in our work,” Fujiki said.
July 24, 2012