Audiologist Reaches Out to Treat Mexican Children Name: Janis Gasch, AuD, CCC-A Title: Owner, Arizona Hearing Specialists Location: Tucson, Arizona When Janis Gasch was in kindergarten, she fell in love with her kindergarten teacher. Not the romantic kind of love, of course, but the kind where you want to be just like this person. ... In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   March 01, 2011
Audiologist Reaches Out to Treat Mexican Children
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / School-Based Settings / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   March 01, 2011
Audiologist Reaches Out to Treat Mexican Children
The ASHA Leader, March 2011, Vol. 16, 34. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.16032011.34
The ASHA Leader, March 2011, Vol. 16, 34. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.16032011.34
Name: Janis Gasch, AuD, CCC-A
Title: Owner, Arizona Hearing Specialists
Location: Tucson, Arizona

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When Janis Gasch was in kindergarten, she fell in love with her kindergarten teacher. Not the romantic kind of love, of course, but the kind where you want to be just like this person. Gasch recalls how she was patient, kind, and truly caring.
Not surprisingly, Gasch thought she wanted to become an elementary school teacher. She even left her home turf of New York City to attend a well-regarded education program at SUNY Buffalo. Unfortunately, by the time she hit her second year and actually began taking the education classes, Gasch didn’t find them very interesting. Luckily she had taken a few communication science classes and glimpsed the potential for her in audiology.
“I liked the fact that audiology is very specific and results-oriented,” she said.
Graduating from SUNY in 1973, Gasch confronted a big choice—where to go to graduate school. Although she had spent her life on the East Coast, a sense of adventure and the search for “some place just a little bit warmer” put the 21-year-old Gasch on a plane to Arizona. There she earned her graduate degree, enjoyed the coursework, and after seven years as a clinician opened Tuscon’s first private audiology practice, Arizona Hearing Specialists.
“When ASHA changed its Code of Ethics [in 1979] and allowed audiologists to dispense hearing aids, I wanted to start my own practice,” Gasch said. “I had diagnosed people with hearing loss but then sent them off to someone else without really knowing what happened. I finally had a chance to have a practice where I could follow my patients’ progress. Were they hearing better? Did it change their lives? I wanted to know.”
During this time, Gasch also worked part-time in a hospital alongside a speech-language pathologist. The SLP had done outreach work treating Mexican children in Nogales, a small Arizona town along the Mexican border. The SLP thought some of the children’s speech issues could be hearing-related and asked Gasch to go with her to check the children’s hearing. Gasch agreed—and found her passion.
“I had never seen anything like this before. In graduate school we were told that these conditions [that result in hearing loss] had been eradicated by vaccines or by prenatal care. But some of these families live out on ranches where the mothers don’t get prenatal care.”
The clinic is open the first Thursday of each month and Gasch is always there. From the beginning of her involvement in 1977, she has seen countless children and has been able to follow some of them to see the impact of her work on their lives.
“For me the great stories are the consistent efforts of parents to get their kids across the border and then work with them during the month between clinics. They are very dedicated,” she said.
Although Gasch is proud of her career and the 30th anniversary this year of Arizona Hearing Specialists, she remains excited about her work at St. Andrews and plans to continue for years to come.
“I’ve seen these children grow up,” she said, “and today they will come back to say hello and bring their own children. I’ve met some amazing, amazing people.”
Contact Janis Gasch at jgasch@arizonahearing.com.
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March 2011
Volume 16, Issue 3