In July 1991, the Foundation for Callier Center and Communication Disorders and various donors established the chair in honor of Nelle C. Johnston, who for more than 40 years, devoted her life and talents to assisting children with hearing problems, and to establishing, guiding and aiding the Callier Center in the fields of communication disorders.
Goffman, like Johnston, has devoted her career to children with communication disorders. She first worked as a clinician, providing interventions to infants and toddlers and their families. In the context of her clinical work, Goffman realized that she needed to become a scientist, and devote her efforts to more deeply understanding the bases of communication disorders. She was especially intrigued by observations that children with communication disorders also showed patterns of difficulty in motor function.
It is an extraordinary honor to be associated, through the Nelle C. Johnston Chair, with a woman who centrally changed the lives of children with communication disorders, both through her work with children with hearing impairment and her central role in the development of the Callier Center for Communication Disorders. To this day, the Callier Center continues to help so many children and their families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I am deeply honored to carry forward, through my research and its application to clinical treatment, her tradition of service to children with communication disorders and their families.
Wanting to help children with speech and language difficulties learn more effectively, Goffman studies speech and language as action. She has spent more than two decades studying the intersection of motor and language components in children and was among the first researchers to identify the nature of the relationship between language and motor areas and to apply her findings to the assessment and treatment of children with communication disorders.
She said all forms of language production — including speaking, gesturing and writing — are complicated motor activities. She focuses on how these organized movements develop in young language learners and, more critically, what can go awry in children with speech and language difficulties.
In addition to conducting her language and motor research, Goffman teaches classes in early language development and disorders; speech motor and communication and feeding disorders, among other topics.
Goffman said the clinical services offered by the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, as well as collaboration with UT Dallas’ outstanding clinicians and researchers, creates a world-class environment for groundbreaking research that improves the lives of children and families in Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond.
Goffman is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and serves as a grant reviewer and chair for the National Institutes of Health. In addition, she has been a journal editor and twice has received the editor’s award from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.
She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Purdue University, where she conducted research for 21 years before coming to UT Dallas.