As I prepare to attend the 2016 conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this weekend, I look forward to connecting face-to-face with pediatricians—with several ASHA priorities on my agenda.
The critical importance of early intervention remains first and foremost on my list of things to share with attendees. I also hope to express the need for pediatricians to involve ASHA-certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists in the care of infant and toddler patients with—or at risk for—hearing, communication and swallowing disorders. Children and their families should receive unrestricted access to necessary audiology and speech-language pathology services. Nevertheless, pediatrician referrals often make a difference in a child being evaluated and treated early.
To this end, ASHA staff will highlight the Value of the CCCs campaign during the conference. Our goals include showcasing the expertise of ASHA-certified professionals, educating pediatricians on what certification entails and why it represents the gold standard in the professions, and showing pediatricians how to connect with certified professionals locally when they—or a parent—have concerns about a child’s communication development or skills.
Pediatricians usually embrace ASHA’s messages on early intervention enthusiastically and they value our members’ services. However, we view this year’s AAP conference as an opportunity to increase recognition about certification—not as well-known to pediatricians. We plan to articulate the value ASHA-certified audiologists and SLPs bring to their patients, every day, in a variety of ways.
The AAP conference also offers an ideal time to engage in proactive and productive conversations about issues we believe require further consideration. With autism continuing to be high on pediatricians’ agendas, we want them to hear more about the role of SLPs in treating children on the spectrum. This includes how SLPs help build social communication and literacy skills.
In addition, we expect new AAP guidelines on children and technology to be unveiled at the conference, so we’ll continue ASHA’s role as an advocate for balanced use of popular technology in the digital era (see video below). This includes the importance of safe listening practices to prevent noise-induced hearing loss—something ASHA has been promoting for a decade through the Listen to Your Buds campaign—as well as the potential impact on communication development when solitary tech time replaces face-to-face engagement. Pediatricians, audiologists and SLPs should all champion the essential role of talking and interacting for children’s development.
ASHA staff will also disseminate new social media resources intended for the public, which we hope you’ll share with your online networks. These build on what was created for Better Hearing & Speech Month in 2016. We encourage setting healthy parameters around technology use. Our messages also communicate the importance of using AAC devices to facilitate social interaction.
In recent years, we intensified efforts to create greater awareness of our professions throughout the pediatric community. Although these efforts resulted in increased exposure, we want to do more. And we want to hear from you. What else should we discuss with pediatricians at the AAP conference? Please comment below so we can continue to represent your interests and concerns with this important audience.
Diane Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP, is ASHA director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology. She is also an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 4, Fluency and Fluency Disorders, and 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication. firstname.lastname@example.org.