Mabel Farrington Gifford: A Visionary for Change

In the early twentieth century, Mabel Farrington Gifford proposed a new model of speech language pathology treatment that would impact the profession of speech-language pathology and the California public education system. Gifford pushed for early intervention programs within the California public school system and used a multidisciplinary approach to treat nervous speech disorders, including stuttering. Her focus on the whole child incorporated speech correction techniques into all aspects of a child’s life, and led her to develop the first teacher training program in the state of California to train public school teachers in speech correction techniques. This thesis analyzes Mabel Farrington Gifford’s ideology within the field of speech language pathology and the context of special education in California. Federal mandates since Gifford’s time have changed public special education programs and research in the field of speech language pathology has greatly expanded. However, Gifford’s ideology about early intervention, treatment of the whole child and specialized training programs still remains at the core.