Lee McLean, PhD

LeeMclean_000.jpeProfessor and Associate Dean, Dept. of Allied Health Sciences
Phone:( 919) 966-9040
Email: lee_mclean@med.unc.edu
Fax: (919) 966-8383


  • PhD, George Peabody College for Teachers (Now: George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University); Major: Special Education/Mental Retardation, Minor: Developmental Psychology, 1977
  • MEd, University of Washington, Special Education/Mental Retardation, 1974
  • BS, Syracuse University, Special Education/Mental Retardation, 1969

Personal Statement

I am a special educator by training, and from 1969 -1974 I worked as a teacher in a self-contained classroom for children with intellectual disabilities. (In those days, we called them "Educable Mentally Retarded" children!) When I returned to graduate school, I became fascinated by the research on language development, and more specifically, on language intervention for children with mental retardation. This led me to pursue a PhD degree and begin a 30+ year career in research and teaching related to communication and language development. While I am not a speech-language pathologist, my husband and closest colleague (James McLean) is an SLP, and ASHA has been my professional home for many years. In fact, I was honored to be named a Fellow of ASHA in 2002. I was a research associate at the University of Kansas from 1976 - 2000; then moved to the University of Connecticut in 1996 to assume the directorship of the Pappanikou Center for Developmental Disabilities; and I have been here at UNC in my present position since 2000. Jim and I have 2 sons, 5 grandchildren, and one great-grand-child back in Kansas.

I spend most of my time these days being an administrator. I maintain a connection to my professional roots through my affiliation with the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and welcome opportunities to interact with students who share my professional interests. I also stay active in the profession by reviewing for several journals and serving as Chair of the National Joint Committee on the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities (http://www.asha.org/NJC).

Courses Taught

SPHS 363: Grant Writing

Research/Clinical Interests

My current research interests are in the development of symbolic and pre-symbolic receptive and expressive communication in children with severe-profound intellectual disabilities; and in analyzing the evidence base for current clinical practice with children and adults who have such disabilities.

Representative Publications/Presentations

Brady, N.C., Marquis, J., Fleming, K., and McLean, L. (2004). Prelinguistic predictors of language growth in children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 47, 663-677.

Brady, N. & McLean, L. (2000). Emergent symbolic relations in speakers and nonspeakers. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 21, 197-214.

McLean, J. & McLean, L. (1999). How Children Learn Language: A Textbook for Educators and Other Professionals Who Work with Young Children. San Diego: Singular Publishing.

McLean, L., Brady, N., McLean, J., & Behrens, G. (1999). Communication forms and functions of children and adults with severe mental retardation in community and institutional settings. Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research, 42, 231-240.

McLean, L. K. & Woods-Cripe, J. (1997). The effectiveness of early intervention for children with communication disorders. In M.J. Guralnick (Ed.), The effectiveness of early intervention: Second generation research (pp. 349-428). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

McLean, L. K., Brady, N.C., & McLean, J.E. (1996). Reported communication abilities of individuals with severe mental retardation. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 100, 580-591.

Brady, N.C. & McLean, L.K. (1996). Arbitrary symbol learning by adults with severe mental retardation: A comparison of lexigrams and printed words. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 100, 423-427.

Brady, N., McLean, J., McLean, L., & Johnston, S. (1995). Initiation and repair of intentional communication acs by adults with severe to profound cognitive disabilities. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 1334-1348.

McLean, L., & McLean, J. (1993). Communication intervention for adults with severe mental retardation. Topics in Language Disorders, 13(3), 47-60.

Sack, S., McLean, L., & McLean, J., & Spradlin, J. (1992). Effects of increased opportunities within scripted activities on communication rates of individuals with severe retardation. Behavioral Residential Treatment, 7(3), 235-257.

McLean, J., McLean, L., Brady, N. & Etter, R. (1991). Communication profiles of two types of gesture using nonverbal persons with severe to profound mental retardation. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 294-308.

McLean, L. K. (1990). Communication development in the first two years of life: A transactional process. Zero to Three, XI (1) [Newsletter of National Center for Clinical Infant Programs], 3-19.

Snyder-McLean, L., & McLean, J. (1987). Children with language and communication disorders. In M. J. Guralnick & F. C. Bennett (Eds.), The Effectiveness of Early Intervention (pp. 213-274). New York: Academic Press.

Snyder-McLean, L., Solomonson, B., McLean, J., & Sack, S. (1984). Structuring joint action routines: A strategy for facilitating communication and language development in the classroom. Seminars in Speech and Language. New York: Thieme-Stratton, Inc.

McLean, J. E., & Snyder, L. K. (1978). A transactional approach to early language training: Derivation of a model system. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.