Kathy Dow-Burger, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Clinical Professor in the University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences (HESP). She is the Friedman Family Director of the Neurodiversity and Autism Transition Services (NATS) program. Dow-Burger oversees 1) the Social Interaction Group Network for All (SIGNA) for UMD students, 2) EFFECT for college-bound teens, and the 3) modified PEERS adolescent and parent social interaction groups which all provide comprehensive executive function, social cognition, conflict resolution, and self-advocacy skills training. Dow-Burger is a nationally-certified, Maryland State licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) and Clinical Professor who has over 30 years of experience in the evaluation and treatment of autism and other communication disorders across the lifespan as well as advocacy for accessibility and use of accommodations and Universal Design for Learning of neurodiverse people. She manages the clinical instruction and supervision of HESP graduate and undergraduate students engaged in their SLP practicum. Dow-Burger also serves as a campus consultant for UMD’s Resident Life, Health and Counseling Centers, Clarice Performing Arts Center, Accessibility and Disability Service, and other campus departments to support and ensure these agencies work more effectively with UMD students with autism and neurodivergent needs. In 2019, Dow-Burger was the first recipient of the University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences’ Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Award.

Dow-Burger is a co-organizer of the annual Neurodiversity at Work Research Workshop which brings together leading scholars, neurodivergent leaders, neurodiversity practitioners, and leading neurodiversity employers concerned with advancing neurodiversity employment research. This work is related to the preparation, recruitment, persistence, and advancement of neurodivergent individuals in the workplace.

Prior to joining the faculty at UMD, Kathy was a speech-language pathologist at the Kennedy Krieger Hospital, the Kennedy Krieger Center for Development & Learning Programs & Services and the Kennedy Krieger School in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, she has worked as an SLP at the Katherine Thomas School in Rockville, Maryland as well as in Prince George’s County Public Schools. 

Areas of Interest

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Social Language Disorders
  • Parent-Young Child Interactions in Emergent Language and Literacy
  • Language-Learning Disabilities to include Reading and Written Language Disabilities
  • Child-Adolescent-Adult Fluency
  • Clinical Supervision


  • MA
    University of Maryland
  • BA
    University of Maryland

My teaching philosophy addresses the need for my students to bridge their academic knowledge with their clinical skills, their clinical skills with the research, and straddle their individual experiences with public needs.  I believe that my role as a clinical and academic instructor is to teach my students to be relevant, scientifically-current, inclusive and collaborative.  As a result, I have four goals that demonstrate this:

To use coursework and clinical content in my instruction that are relevant and can be directly applied to the fields of speech-language pathology (SLP) in order to prepare Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences’ (HESP) undergraduate students for graduate school and graduate students for professional practice.

As an instructor for two upper-level courses such as HESP 400, Development of Speech & Language in Young Children and HESP 417, Principles and Methods in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, I believe that students should be guided through the transition from theoretical and research-specific content to clinical concepts and real-life experiences. No longer will they merely read, study and be tested.  In the academic and clinical courses I teach, they learn how to apply these in situations that are relevant and functional. For example, in my HESP 417 course, prior to the first day of class, students choose their top 3 cases of interest from a list of 12 communication disorders: These span from adult to pediatric and, speech-language to hearing disorders. Then, they are assigned to a case study team who will view the original diagnostic video, read the original formal evaluation report, identify client areas of strengths and needs based on the video and report, develop goals & objectives (one set per student) and write a formal Initial Therapy Plan (each student selects a section of the report to write) with their group. 

As the semester progresses, the students learn clinical skills that are used directly in their cases such as writing effective goals and objectives, selecting appropriate reinforcements for shaping communication skills, and developing carry-over and generalization opportunities. Throughout this case study project, students are given formative feedback on their behavioral objectives, report sections, collaboration and peer teaching.  This feedback is delivered orally during small group class exercises.  Individual and group summative feedback is then provided on the formal report.

To present research and evidence-based practice in my academic and clinical coursework to teach my students to be critical thinkers and use best practices in the field of speech-language pathology in order to be current, ethical, effective and accountable to their patients and the profession.

Oftentimes, it can be misconstrued that it is the most articulate speaker who demonstrates the best skills and abilities in a given area.  However, what I offer to my students are opportunities to develop strong listening, observing, critical thinking and problem solving skills in all areas of their coursework, clinic, research and outreach experiences.  A strong example of this is the lead role I took in the emergent literacy parent-child training program my team and I developed. This is a community-based, IRB-approved, research project that involved HESP academic and clinical faculty as well as PhD, graduate and undergraduate students. Faculty and students participated in different aspects of the development, planning, implementation and analysis stages of the project.  Within the clinical practicum, my students and I studied and applied the current best practices in teaching emergent literacy and training parents to infuse specific language enrichment and pre-literacy skills into their children’s daily life.  As part of the clinical practicum, students learned to administer pre- and post-tests, record pre-post intervention videos, score and interpret assessments and implement the child and parent intervention protocol. In addition, they learned how to transcribe parent-child language samples using Computerized Language Analysis (CLAN).

To differentiate my academic and clinical instruction to accommodate HESP undergraduate and graduate students’ diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, communication styles and learning differences in order to provide equal learning opportunities to all of my students.

Just as I have differentiated and individualized therapy sessions for my patients in the 30 years as an SLP, I also do this with my students.  One size does not fit all.  I use a multi-modal and multi-sensory approach in my clinical instruction as well as in the courses I teach.  For instance, to illustrate therapeutic teaching strategies or concepts, I use videos, direct client observation, role-play, clinical modeling, written feedback and graphic organizers. In addition, with intent, I look to provide examples and illustrations of diverse populations (e.g., race, ethnicity, linguistic, cultural, gender and across the lifespan).

To provide HESP undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to collaborate with each other, individuals within the field of SLP and those in related fields in order to develop the cooperative mind-set characterized by the profession.

In the SLP field, there are few ‘lone wolves’ who do not interact with other professionals or the public.  In our scope of practice, for example, SLPs provide evaluations, treatment, education and advocacy.   In my courses and other training, I invite parents, occupational therapists and SLPs as guest speakers to offer my students different perspectives of the profession.  In addition, as co-director of the University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium (UMARC), experts in areas such as education, finance, behavior and medicine are invited to our Community-wide Lectures about Autism Speaker Series (CLASS) outreach workshops where students and the public are invited.  However, in one of my mostambitious clinical and educational projects, I increased my students’ experience in inter-professional education and practice, by organizing a literacy screening at the DC General Family Shelter in Washington, DC.  This was in collaboration with Georgetown School of Medicine’s Hoya Clinic and its 1st and 2nd year medical students.  Clinical faculty and SLP graduate and undergraduatestudents participated in the planning, implementation and interpretation of the literacy screening of children living in the shelter.  Georgetown medical students provided medical screenings to the children and followed up with the families of children who exhibited delays in their reading skills. Thereafter, the 1st and 2nd year medical students were trained by me and one of my clinical peers on the development of literacy and how to target these skills in reading activities that were implemented by them at the Hoya clinic.

There are many classroom teaching models that present course content in unique ways, such as, blended or flipped.  These modalities can support effective learning and I have utilized aspects of both.  However, as my students seek their advanced degrees, I see my main role as facilitating their transition from the undergraduate student frame-of-mind to the confident, scholarly professional.  This is especially true as they experience dramatic changes in content, expectations and teaching models.


Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
HESP648 Clinical Practice in Speech Fall 2022
HESP499 Independent Study Spring 2020
HESP386 Experiential Learning Fall 2019
HESP499 Independent Study Spring 2019
HESP386 Experiential Learning Fall 2018
HESP386 Experiential Learning Spring 2018
HESP417 Principles and Methods in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Fall 2017
HESP417 Principles and Methods in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Fall 2017
HESP417 Principles and Methods in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Fall 2014
  • Professional
    Member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • State
    Maryland Licensure in Speech-Language Pathology
Clinical Professor
Lefrak Hall
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
kdowburg [at] umd.edu