Dr. Jen Thistle

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Communication Sciences & Disorders, Pennsylvania State University, PA

M.S., Communication Sciences & Disorders, Emerson College, Boston, MA


(360) 650-3157

AIC 378

Dr. Thistle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.  She earned her MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Emerson College in Boston and her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the Pennsylvania State University.  Dr. Thistle taught at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire prior to coming to Western in 2017.

Dr. Thistle enjoys the passion CSD students bring to the classroom and strives to share her knowledge and expertise across her undergraduate and graduate courses in normal language development, child language disorders, and augmentative and alternative communication.

Dr. Thistle's research focuses on building the evidence base guiding clinicians in providing quality speech-language intervention for children who use augmentative and alternative modes to communicate (AAC).  Her research to date has focused on identifying the effect of specific features of AAC displays, including background color and symbol arrangement.  She is also interested in supporting literacy development in children who use AAC.

Research Interests

Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Literacy and AAC, Collaboration with families

Selected Publications

Thistle, J., & Wilkinson, K. (2017). Effects of background color and symbol arrangement cues on construction of multi-symbol messages by young children without disabilities:
Implications for aided AAC design. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 33, 160-169.

Thistle, J., & Wilkinson, K. (2015). Building evidence-based practice in AAC display design for young children: Current practices and future directions. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 31, 124 – 136.

Thistle, J., & McNaughton, D. (2015). Teaching active listening skills to pre-service speech-language pathologists: A first step in supporting collaboration with parents of young children who require AAC. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, 46, 44 – 55. 

Thistle, J., & Wilkinson, K. (2013). Working memory demands of aided augmentative and alternative communication for individuals with developmental disabilities. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 29, 235 – 245.

Thistle, J., & Wilkinson, K. (2012). What are the Attention Demands of AAC? Perspectives on Alternative and Augmentative Communication, 21, 17 – 22.

Thistle, J., & Wilkinson, K. (2009). The effects of color cues on typically developing preschoolers’ speed of locating a target line drawing: Implications for augmentative and alternative communication display design. American Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 18, 231 – 240.