James W. Thelin, Ph.D.

Field Specialty

Clinical procedures in audiology.
Hearing/vestibular disorders, communication development in CHARGE syndrome.

Research Interests

Much of Dr. Thelin’s research has been conducted on the procedures and practices associated with clinical audiology.  This has included the development of a procedure for hearing measurement in masking dilemmas, delineation of hearing and auditory function with genetic disorders and ototoxic drugs, screening and assessment of infant hearing, and development of guidelines for hearing screening and specification of auditory function and disability. For 25 years, Dr. Thelin has been involved in the study of CHARGE syndrome and the development of a foundation for this disorder.  CHARGE syndrome is a genetic disorder that can cause deficits in all sensory modalities and is associated with a number of serious medical conditions and a unique set of behavioral disorders.  It is the leading cause of congenital deaf-blindness in the US.  Dr. Thelin used inferential techniques to provide the initial descriptions of the auditory deficits that are present in every part of the auditory system from the external ear to the auditory central nervous system. 

Since approximately half of the children with CHARGE syndrome do not acquire symbolic language, his research has focused on the factors that affect communication development. He conducts research on communication in collaboration with speech-language pathologists and deaf-blind specialists.  His past research has shown that the development of symbolic language is related to the ability to walk independently.  He is currently directing graduate student research on the measurement of the vestibule-ocular reflex in CHARGE syndrome and on the linguistic forms and functions in children with CHARGE syndrome who have severely delayed language development.

He is the program director for the one-day meeting of the CHARGE Foundation Professional Advisory Board and the three-day meeting of families and professionals at the 9th International CHARGE Syndrome Conference in 2009.  In addition, he and three others are in the process of editing a two-book series on CHARGE syndrome:  Description/Diagnosis and Treatment/Management.


  • B.A., Rice University (1968)
  • M.A., University of Iowa (1973)
  • Ph.D., University of Iowa (1980)


  • American Speech Language and Hearing Association,Fellow
  • CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, “Star-in-CHARGE” Award
  • Tennessee Academy of Audiology Gene W. Bratt Award

Representative Publications

  • Blake, K.D., Hartshorne, T. S., Lawand, C., Dailor, A. N., & Thelin, J. W. (2008). Cranial nerve symptoms in CHARGE syndrome.  American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A  146A:585-592.

  • Thelin, J. W., & Swanson, L. A. (2006).  CHARGE syndrome: multiple congenital anomalies including disorders of all senses and speech, language, feeding, swallowing, and behavior. ASHA Leader. October 17, 2006, pp. 6-7 & 40-42.

  • Franklin, C. A., Jr., Thelin, J. W., Nabelek, A. K., & Burchfield, S. B. (2006).  The effects of speech presentation level on acceptance of background noise in normal-hearing listeners.  Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 17, 141-146. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 17, 168-178.

  • Freyaldenhoven, M. C., Thelin, J. W., Plyler, P. N., Nabelek, A. K., & Burchfield, S. B. (2005). Effect of stimulant medication on the acceptance of background noise in individuals with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.  Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 16, 677-686. [“Most Thought Provoking” article award by the The Hearing Journal2006.]

  • Thelin, J. W. & Fussner, J. C. (2005).  Factors related to the development of communication in CHARGE syndrome.  American Journal of Medical Genetics, 133A, 282-290.

Courses Taught

  • ASP 542 - Hearing Disorders
  • ASP 545 - Sound Measurement Techniques and hearing Conservation
  • ASP 546 - Audiologic Assessment
  • ASP 577 - Vestibular Disorders
James W. Thelin

Contact Information

James W. Thelin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology
University of Tennessee
544 S. Stadium Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-0740

Phone: (865) 974-1796
Email: jthelin@utk.edu