Joanne P. Smith-Darden, Ph.D., MSW, CCC-SLP
As the parent of a special needs child, Dr. Smith-Darden’s exceptional understanding of diverse special education needs is born from sitting on both sides of the table. Her experience across multiple domains is a valuable asset to the comprehensive service array we provide our clients. In particular, her ability to take recommendations from our assessments to educational environments and subsequently construct meaningful helpful goals and plans is invaluable for everyone – client, family and schools alike.
She has participated in, and directed, hundreds of school meetings (e.g., Student Study Team meetings, IEPs, Section 504 Plan meetings – from preschool to college) that helped parents, students, teachers, and administrators translate and incorporate assessment results into strategic educational as well as therapeutic objectives for the client.
Dr. Joanne Smith-Darden holds degrees in special education, speech and language pathology, social work, and developmental psychology. She obtained an interdisciplinary doctorate in social work and developmental psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She’s trained, practiced, consulted, and evaluated service delivery in a variety of settings including; schools, educational cooperatives serving low-incidence handicaps, non-profit community agencies, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and the Michigan Bureau of Juvenile Justice.
She is also an applied federally funded researcher and interdisciplinary scholar, holding the Ruth T. Koehler Endowed Professorship in Children’s Services at the Michigan State University School of Social Work. Dr. Smith-Darden’s research interests include the interface between early relational maltreatment (ACEs), attachment, self-regulation, and cognitive processing – with a particular focus on auditory and language processing. Another area of research interest focuses on examining risk and protective factors associated with a variety of behavioral outcomes. Dr. Smith-Darden is a published author in the fields of social work, psychology, and public health, presenting her work locally, nationally, and internationally.
Clinically, Dr. Smith-Darden has performed assessments across the lifespan, covering a wide variety of developmental and acquired neurological disorders (e.g., pervasive developmental disorders, traumatic brain injuries, speech and language disorders and oral motor disorders) – providing diagnostic information and individualized recommendations to optimize each client’s learning strengths and weaknesses.