Patty Prelock, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, has been awarded the Honors of the Association from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in recognition of her contributions to the field of speech, language and hearing.

Prelock, a professor in communication sciences and disorders and in pediatrics, is a leading expert on autism with more than 155 peer reviewed and other publications including nine books on autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities, language assessment and intervention, and language learning disabilities. The prestigious award is in recognition of a lifetime of innovative clinical practice, insightful and rigorous research, creative administration, effective legislative activity, and outstanding teaching that have enhanced or altered the course of the profession. 

“Patty was well ahead of her time in appreciating the far-reaching effects of language impairment whether it was a primary diagnosis or secondary to other conditions such as ASD,” wrote Bonnie Brinton, former graduate college dean and current professor in communication disorders at Brigham Young University in her letter of support. "Patty is a clinician's clinician – she understands the complex issues that influence practice, and she knows how to synthesize information to provide viable clinical solutions in best practice. Even better, through her example, her leadership, and her publications, she has taught thousands of us to improve our practice.”

The award marks an impressive three-year run for UVM’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Professor Emerita Mary Wilson, president of Laureate Learning Systems, won the award in 2014 for her work on language assessment and intervention programs, and Professor Barry Guitar, one of the world’s leading experts on stuttering, won it in 2015. Prelock will receive the award at the ASHA convention on Nov. 18 in Philadelphia, where she will also be honored later that evening at a gathering of alumni from UVM's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

"It is a testament to the quality of faculty and administrators associated with UVM’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders that three members of their department have been recognized with this prestigious award," said ASHA president-elect Gail Richard, emeritus professor at Eastern Illinois University. "Patty has greatly influenced our profession with her scholarly publications and research, as well as her innovative suggestions for clinical practice that she presents in her seminars and academic courses."

Prelock’s research has had a direct impact on the lives of children in Vermont and across the country. In addition to coordinating parent-training programs designed for caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders, she has developed innovations in interdisciplinary training to support children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. She has secured more than $11 million in university, state and federal funding to expand those innovations and facilitate training in speech-language pathology, and to support her intervention work in autism spectrum disorders.

“Patty doesn't just teach or do research. She changes lives,” said Tiffany Hutchins, associate professor in communications sciences and disorders at UVM, who has conducted research with her former post-doc mentor on Theory of Mind (ToM) in autism and on social pragmatic interventions to improve the lives of families and their children with ASD.

Prelock is no stranger to winning awards. She won the 1998 Friends Award from the Vermont Parent Information Center; the first annual Autism Society of Vermont Excellence in Service Award in 2000; UVM’s Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000; University Scholar Award in 2003; and the Puppets Choice Award from Kids on the Block of Vermont in 2010.




Jon Reidel