California Speech Language Hearing Association's (CSHA) 2017 Diversity Award Recipient (CA UCEDD/LEND)

May 30, 2017

This past March, Sonia Konialian Aller, Ph.D., CCC, was honored by the California Speech Language and Hearing Association (CSHA) with its Diversity award at its annual convention held in Pasadena, California. The award recognized her broad-ranging career contributions and excellence in service, teaching, mentoring, research, and community outreach. Dr. Aller holds a Ph.D. (Indiana U.) in psycholinguistics and is a licensed, multilingual, speech-language pathologist. She has served as the Communication Disorders discipline Director over the past 25 years at the California LEND (CA-LEND) at the University of Southern California (USC) UCEDD at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

Over the past 35 years Dr. Aller has served children and youth with diverse communication and related developmental disorders, providing specialty, culturally competent clinical services to children from Armenian- and Arabic-speaking families in the Greater Los Angeles area. Throughout her career, she has also taught clinicians-in-training in L.A. area universities as adjunct faculty, mentored CA-LEND fellows, and developed training programs, such as the Federally funded, nationally marketed Tech for Tots curriculum to address the assistive technology (AT) needs of children in the early childhood years. In 2006, Dr. Aller developed and led an interdisciplinary assistive technology consultation clinic at the Lanterman Regional Center, one of seven developmental disabilities service coordinating agencies in Los Angeles county. More recently, she was the principal faculty advisor on two CA-LEND video leadership projects developed by CA-LEND fellows- one titled, ‘Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for Individuals with Rett Syndrome (RS): An Informational Resource'; and the second, ‘Helping Individuals with Multiple Disabilities to Gain Independence through AT/AAC'. Both are disseminated through the CHLA YouTube site.

Since 1998, Dr. Aller has served as a founding board member of the non-profit, parent education and support organization, the Foothill Autism Alliance (FAA). She contributed the chapter on Treatment Options in FAA's 400+-page ‘Autism Power Pak', an extensive resource guide published and disseminated in two editions, for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

In 2006, Dr. Aller recruited several Armenian service providers and parents, and formed the all-volunteer non-profit Armenian Autism Outreach Project (AAOP), a parent support and community education organization, to increase awareness of ASD and early intervention resources in the Armenian community through teacher education seminars, monthly call-in Armenian TV programs, and coaching to assist parents in their advocacy efforts on behalf of their children. Dr. Aller is an invited speaker at community association and training events on ASD and related cultural issues. This February, Dr. Aller was interviewed by L. A. Parent magazine for an article on cultural diversity and developmental disabilities titled, ‘Disability in our Multicultural Melting Pot', which appeared in the April 2017 issue of ‘Inclusive L. A'., and has been distributed widely and is available at .