For Children with Hearing Loss, Parents’ Desired Outcomes Should Drive Early Intervention & Use of Hearing Technology

2009_01_20_2374

Photo by bjorn knetsch

Just this past week, a hallway conversation with a colleague underscored the frustration that parents and caregivers of children with hearing loss seem to encounter on an all-too-frequent basis. My colleague described a situation whereby some very diligent parents had chosen to pursue bilateral cochlear implantation for their 10-month old son with a profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Even though they had gathered a mountain of information, received support from their pediatrician, approval from their insurance company, and spoke to countless other parents – some of whom had chosen cochlear implants for their children with hearing loss and others who had not – they found the most resistance from their early intervention providers. Not only were these professionals unsupportive, they provided grossly inaccurate information about cochlear implants and listening and spoken language outcomes. It was plainly obvious to these parents that they had obtained more knowledge than the “professionals” who were there to serve them. Unfortunately, this scenario is repeated too often throughout the United States.

Almost without exception, parents want their children to have more successful lives than themselves. Whether that success be academic, social, or career-related, parents want what is best for their children. Determining what is “best” is a complicated process. Parents must use their own familial experiences, cultural perspectives, belief systems, and knowledge to make decisions that will affect the developmental, communicative, and academic success of their children.

For parents of young children with hearing loss, research informs us that approximately 95% of these parents are hearing themselves and have little or no experience with deafness. Usually, their only exposure to deafness is what they’ve seen portrayed in the media or the occasional interaction with an older relative with an age-related hearing loss.

So, what are parents to do and how should they determine what is best for their infant or toddler who has been diagnosed with hearing loss? Once that diagnosis is confirmed, parents need access to information about communication options and expected outcomes, hearing technology, and the available services in the community. The child’s audiologist is a pivotal professional in this process as he or she should get this discussion started. The range of hearing technology, such as digital hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices should be thoroughly reviewed and prescribed. Then, the family should be referred to an early intervention program (usually a statewide system), and appropriate early intervention services should be initiated.

The type, frequency, and intensity of the early intervention services should be based on the parents’ desired outcomes for the child. That is, if the child’s parents have decided that they want their child to be eventually mainstreamed in a local public school with hearing peers and to communicate using spoken language, then early intervention services should be structured to support those desired outcomes. Too often – in too many states – parents are given a very limited menu of services that are available and simply told which services will be provided. Of course, when this occurs, it fails the test of having services that are individualized, and the services certainly are not driven by what the parents want for their child with hearing loss.

Ultimately, parents need to make informed decisions about what they consider is appropriate for their child. They need to gather information from multiple sources, speak to other families who have navigated the system, and make sure they are informed about their rights. Each state has its own unique way of doing things, including how federal laws are interpreted and services provided. With perseverance and due diligence, parents usually can structure services that are appropriate for their child. The key is to be persistent and to not give up until the services provided support those long-term, desired outcomes that are envisioned for the child!

(Note: This blog was adapted from an original posting by the author on the Better Hearing Institute’s Pediatrics Blog.)

 

K. Todd Houston, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT, is an Associate Professor in the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at The University of Akron. His primary areas of research include spoken language acquisition in children with hearing loss, strategies for enhancing parent engagement in the intervention process, Auditory-Verbal Therapy, and telepractice. He directs the Telepractice and eLearning Laboratory (TeLL), an initiative to evaluate clinical practices in the area of distance service delivery in Speech-Language Pathology.

Rate That App

Day 99, Project 365 - 1.29.10

Photo by William Brawley

More and more SLPs are using apps in therapy and more and more speech/language apps are flooding the app store.  I love to use technology and apps in my therapy sessions, but how do I pick which apps to use?  Honestly, as the market for apps and the number of apps increases, it is becoming harder to determine what apps to buy.  I wrote an earlier post about where to go to find apps.  I also have shared my spreadsheet of apps for speech/language listed by target area.

Today, I want to talk a bit about determining what apps are appropriate and useful in therapy or educational settings.  In order to make this decision, we really must talk about a rating system for apps.   I know some people love rating systems and some people hate them.  I have found that the more reviews I read, the more I want reviews to be to concise and tell me whether or not the app is worth my time and money.  With that in mind,  I have been searching the web to try to find a “good” system for rating apps.   During my search I found rubrics, guiding questions, checklists and star ratings.  After reviewing a variety of these sources, I developed two checklists and star rating systems for apps.   One checklist/rating system is for reviewing speech/language/educational apps and the other is for reviewing game/book/productivity apps.  The original idea for the checklists was based on a list created by Tony Vincent (more info about Tony is written further down on this page).

The basis of the system is to allot one point for each item on the checklist, adding up points for a total score.  The total score is then translated into a star rating.  I am hoping that this system will allow me to be more objective and consistent in my app reviews.  It will also allow me to post star ratings on iTunes as I know iTunes reviews are important to app designers.

Here is a preview of the App Review Checklists and Rating Charts:

If you would like to take a closer look at my checklists, you can download themhere and here.  As always, I am open to sharing.  My only request is that you link back to my blog, and provide any feedback for ways to improve the checklist and rating chart.  I know my system is not perfect and I will most likely tweak it as I use it to evaluate apps.

Some of you may be interested in reading more about the resources that I used to help me create my lists/rating charts.  You can find links and information below:

  • Speech Techie’s Fives Criteria:  Sean Sweeney of SpeechTechie.comcreated this criteria system for evaluating technology.  It is a general set of criteria that can be used when determining if particular apps are useful for speech/language therapy.  If you aren’t familiar with Sean, he is a certified SLP and technology specialist.  He is involved in app development at Smarty Ears and he presents around the country regarding use of technology in sp/lang therapy.  To learn more about his 5′s criteria, you can download his booklet here.
  • Evaluation Rubric for iPod Apps:  This rubric was created by Harry Walker, a teacher, elementary school principal and blogger (I Teach Therefore IPod).   I found that many educators site his rubric when discussing ways to evaluate apps.  I found several app review rubrics that were based on his original rubric for evaluating iPod apps.
  • Ways to Evaluate Educational Apps:  This is a blog post written by Tony Vincent of LearninginHand.com.  Tony shared a rubric and checklist he created for evaluating apps.  He also discussed several rubrics and checklists that have been developed by other educators and school systems.  The idea for the overall set up of my checklist as well as items to include was based on a checklist that he created called, Educational App Evaluation Checklist.  If you love technology and you don’t read Tony’s blog, you should start today.  His blog is an amazing resource for all things technology in education.

If you have any feedback regarding the checklists, I would love to hear from you.  Stay tuned for app reviews that include my checklist and rating system.

 (This post originally appeared on Speech Gadget.)

Deborah Taylor Tomarakos, MA CCC/SLP, has been pediatric speech language pathologist since 1994.   She has experience in both public school settings and in outpatient pediatrics.  She is currently employed by a public school system.  Deb has provided therapy services to children with a wide variety of communication deficits, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, CAS, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, language based learning disabilities, and literacy deficits.  Strong areas of interest include technology use in therapy, CAS, and literacy.  You can find her online at www.speechgadget.com where she shares therapy ideas, resources, websites, and technology integration tips. 

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup–Week 5

Second place winner of the BHSM Drawing Contest--by Paul Gammaitoni, Age 7

Sadly, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) has come to a close! So many great posts, articles, events, tweets and stories shared–the messages will undoubtedly resound well beyond this one month. Here are just a few of the many great posts we noticed from this last week of BHSM:

  •  The Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association produced five podcasts in honor of BHSM examining issues relevant to SLPs and audiologists.
  • Even the Department of Defense’s Hearing Center of Excellence got involved in highlighting the importance of BHSM, sharing plans to embark on a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of noise later this year.
  • The Technology in (Spl) Education blog featured many SLP guest posts throughout May in honor of BHSM.
  • The Standford School of Medicine blog Hearing Loss Cure posted a great summary of  more BHSM efforts undertaken by various organizations, and reminded us of the importance of keeping the spirit of BHSM alive throughout the year.

Thanks again to all who commented on the week 1 , week 2 week 3 and week 4 roundup posts–please share any last BHSM blog posts and other resources in the comments.

 

Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

Hearing Aid Battery Precautions for Audiologists

Batteries

Photo by James Bowe

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an article in the June issue of Pediatrics on the significant increase in pediatric button battery ingestion and resulting serious complications.

The button batteries of greatest concern are the batteries containing lithium. Batteries with lithium can cause severe burns and even death if swallowed. Lithium batteries are often found in remote controls, cameras and other household electronic devices. Two studies highlighted in the article report devastating injuries such as destruction of the wall of the esophagus and trachea and vocal paralysis. Ingested batteries need to be removed within two hours to prevent these medical emergencies.

While hearing aid batteries do not contain lithium, precautions still need to be taken to prevent accidental ingestion. Audiologists should be educating patients and families on battery safety. I remember my grandmother telling me (before I was an audiologist) that she had lined up all her morning pills to take with breakfast and had also lined up a hearing aid battery to remind her to replace the one in her hearing aid. She popped the battery into her mouth along with her medications and swallowed! As an RN she was aware of possible irritation and danger and carefully monitored her digestive system over the next few days. Apparently the battery passed safely through her gastrointestinal tract with no negative effects! This is what happens most of the time when a hearing aid battery is accidentally ingested; however, even zinc-air batteries contain trace amounts of the heavy metal mercury. Poisoning is possible after ingestion if the battery disintegrates and the casing opens.

Beginning in July 2011, some states began requiring all hearing aid batteries to be mercury-free. Mercury is considered an environmental hazard and toxic to our environment when it ends up in a landfill. Check with your state for current regulations and look for batteries that have no mercury.

Along with your hearing aid orientation and battery instructions, here are some additional tips to share with your patients:

  • Seek medical attention right away if a battery has been ingested. Children and pets may exhibit these symptoms: anorexia, nausea, vomiting and very dark stools.
  • Do not dispose of batteries in a fire…they can explode and release toxins.
  • Recycle batteries (Do you as an audiologist have this value-added feature in your practice? If not, Radio Shack will recycle batteries.)
  • Make sure that hearing aids for children are fitted with locking battery doors and activate the locking mechanism at all times when the child is wearing the devices.
  • Alert other family members to secure batteries out of reach of small children.
  • Don’t mistake the battery for a pill!
  • National Battery Ingestion Hotline: 202-625-3333.
  • Batteries in the nose and ear must also be removed quickly and safely to avoid permanent damage.

 

Interested in Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance? ASHA’s Special Interest Group on Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance’s  mission is to address public health issues related to hearing and balance through a transdisciplinary approach. SIG 8 sponsors continuing education via Perspectives  and short course and panel presentations at the ASHA convention, and SIG members have access to a private group in the ASHA Community for professional discussion and resource sharing. Consider joining SIG 8 today!

 

Pamela Mason, M.Ed., CCC-A is the director of audiology professional practices at the ASHA national office. She is a member of ASHA’s SIG 8, Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance.

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup–Week 4

2012 bhsm drawing winner

First place winner of the 2012 BHSM drawing contest--by Aiza Javaid, age 6

Closing in on the end of Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) and it’s been amazing to see all the online buzz focused on hearing and speech! There have been hundreds of tweets, many blog posts, and equally many Facebook posts highlighting facts about BHSM. Here are just a few  of the many great posts we noticed from this past week:

Also, congratulations to the 2012 BHSM Drawing Contest winners! The drawing above was the first place winner, done by Aiza Javaid, age 6, from Aldie, Virginia.

Thanks to all who commented on the week 1 , week 2  and week 3 roundup posts–please continue to share other BHSM blog posts and other resources in the comments.

 

Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup–Week 3


So many Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) posts and so little space to share them all! Thanks to all who commented on the week 1 and week 2 roundup posts–it’s great to see so many actively engaged in promoting BHSM in innovative, fun ways.
Here are just a few of the many posts we’ve seen this past week:
  • Carole Zangari, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is devoting this month’s strategy of the month posts to helping SLPs develop  PrAACtical Learning and Resource Networks.
  • Brenda Gorman, PH.D., CCC-SLP, reminds us that BHSM is a great time to spread the word about the CSD professions, on the Lingua Health blog.
  • The UHS-Pruitt Corporation website devoted this month’s Wellness Tips section to BHSM, focusing on hearing and hearing safety.
  • The National Initiative for Healthcare Quality highlights their infant hearing screening program in recognition and celebration of BHSM.
  • Not a blog post, but last week, Pat Ritter, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Executive Director, The Treatment & Learning Centers and Greg Weimann, MBA, ASHA  Manager of Public Relations, conducted a live online chat for ASHA members that focused on marketing one’s services as part BHSM.  The questions ran the gambit from inquiries about the best ways to reach physicians and other referral sources to questions about starting a new practice, hours of operations, and even how to market an open house. Here’s an except from the chat:

Q: How would you market an open house? What would you suggest having at an open house besides staff/brochures/possible videos?

Greg: For the open house, I would invite the local media. Take pictures if media doesn’t come and send the photos. I would have food, demonstrations, videos and perhaps have patients that you have helped tell their stories.

Pat: Make the open house personal. Have lunch and chat about your services. This is best. You can have the brochures etc. to take away. Think of what you like, conversation, interaction a good feel. Market through flyers, letter and personal calls. We do these and with everyone so busy it is hard to get people to come. Personal invites are best OR give value. Do a one hour workshop that would draw people in and then talk about your practice for 10 minutes.

ASHA members can access the full archive of the online chat here.

Share your blog posts or other resources in the comments and we’ll continue sharing them each Thursday throughout May.

(The poster pictured above was included in the March 13, 2012 issue of the ASHA Leader. For more free BHSM resources like coloring pages, book marks, door hangers and more, visit the BHSM section of the ASHA website.)

 

Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

 

 

A Lesson Learned From a Preemie

Kaitlyn then and now

This week, my daughter, Kaitlyn, will graduate from high school. As I look at this vibrant 18 year-old young woman, I find myself thinking back to her birth. She was born at just 26 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 lb., 12 oz. A few days later, her weight dropped to 1 lb., 6 oz. The neonatologists were cautious; they spoke in hushed tones and could only muster a guarded prognosis. We didn’t know if she would survive.

Just before delivery, while my wife, Maria, was in preterm labor, we had a parade of physicians and residents who visited her hospital room to check her status. The hospital was affiliated with a medical school, so we became accustomed to a regular flow of medical students who were more than a bit curious about the possibility of delivering an infant so early. Each time two of them came into the hospital room to check on my wife (they seemed to travel in pairs), they would do a quick exam and then reach into their coat pockets to get the “card.” This seemingly magical card contained a set of statistics that detailed the survival rates of infants born at various birth weights and gestational ages. Each physician would then proceed to recite these statistics, which sounded something like this:

“Mrs. Houston, you’re at 26 weeks gestation, and according to our research, infants delivered at this gestational age have a 20% chance of survival. If you deliver at 27 weeks gestation, the survival rate improves slightly to 26.8%. Of course, if you deliver later, the percentage of children who survive continues to increase.”

Like clockwork, each physician and/or medical student would reach for his or her card after every visit to the room. The story was basically the same except for a few additional potential “complications” for a child born at each gestational age – such as blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, brain bleeds, and a variety of other medical conditions. After witnessing a few of these episodes, my wife and I could recite the statistics from memory!

At the time, repeatedly hearing what could happen to our daughter was difficult to absorb. The information could have been delivered in a more patient-friendly – and parent-friendly – manner. The statistics that were shared were grim, but knowing what could happen helped us to prepare. Those two days in the hospital trying to prevent and then waiting for Kaitlyn’s delivery allowed us to understand the worst possible scenario but, at the same time, hope and pray for the best outcome.

As I reflect on that experience, the statistics that the physicians cited were quite impressive. In fact, I’m a bit envious that we can’t say something similar for children born with hearing loss, which is the population that I work with most frequently. That is, I wish we had the ability to confidently state that: “…an infant identified at birth with a severe to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and fitted with XYZ hearing aids and immediately enrolled in early intervention will have a 96% success rate in developing intelligible spoken language by the time s/he is five years old” or “an infant who fails to develop adequate listening, speech and language outcomes with hearing aids and then gets cochlear implants by one year of age will achieve age-appropriate developmental outcomes within 18 months if the parents are fully engaged in the intervention process and when services are delivered by a qualified provider.”
To accomplish something like this would require enormous resources and standard protocols for professionals across many disciplines, including but not limited to: Pediatric Medicine, Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology, Deaf Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education.

The myriad factors one would have to control to obtain similar outcome data for children with hearing loss truly boggles the mind. Some of those factors would include: cause of hearing loss, degree of hearing loss, age of diagnosis, type of hearing technology used, communication approach, type and frequency of early intervention, level of parent engagement in the intervention process, the skills of the service provider, the family’s socio-economic status, and additional medical conditions or disabilities beyond deafness –and that would be just to capture the most basic information.

Parents today who have a child with hearing loss deal with too many challenges to ensure their child is successful. Too often, they face obstacles securing appropriate audiological services and early intervention that supports their preferred mode of communication. Furthermore, the variability in services from community to community is alarming, and if the family lives in a rural area, there’s an even greater chance the child will be grossly underserved or not receive services at all.

Kaitlyn, my 1 lb., 12 oz. baby girl, is leaving high school and will be entering college this summer studying pediatric nursing. Aside from spinal surgery for scoliosis about six years ago, she is a rather typical teenager making the transition into adulthood. We owe her success to treatment and intervention that was well-defined, consistent, and delivered by practitioners who were highly-trained. Someday, I hope all parents who find themselves dealing with a premature infant or some other medical condition at birth – such as hearing loss – can receive the same level of support from the professionals surrounding them.

(Note: This blog was adapted from an original posting by the author on the Better Hearing Institute’s Pediatrics Blog.)

 

K. Todd Houston, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT, is an Associate Professor in the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at The University of Akron. His primary areas of research include spoken language acquisition in children with hearing loss, strategies for enhancing parent engagement in the intervention process, Auditory-Verbal Therapy, and telepractice. He directs the Telepractice and eLearning Laboratory (TeLL), an initiative to evaluate clinical practices in the area of distance service delivery in Speech-Language Pathology.

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup Week 1

Happy Better Hearing & Speech Month! This May marks the 85th anniversary of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), a month dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders and to promoting treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. ASHA offers many resources for BHSM, and with each passing year, more and more SLPs, audiologists, and others interested in CSD are using social media to share ideas for celebrating BHSM.

Twitter is a great way to hear what others are doing to celebrate BHSM. You can follow the #BHSM hashtag on Twitter or just bookmark this link and check it throughout the month to follow the conversations about BHSM on Twitter. We’ve also started a Better Hearing & Speech Month Ideas board on Pinterest, where we’ll be pinning/re-pinning resources and ideas we see throughout the month.

Each week throughout May ASHAsphere will be highlighting some of the blog posts and other resources we’ve found using these social media sources. Here are just a few of the many posts we’ve seen this week:

  • Christopher Bugaj, MA CCC-SLP, did his annual A.T. TIPSCAST podcast and accompanying blog post about language-based curriculum, dedicated to BHSM.
  • Dan P McLellan, CCC-SLP, did a post about BHSM in his new blog, Speechguy.
  • Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP, lists some BHSM resources on the Advance  Early Intervention Speech Therapy blog.
  • Canadian SLP Skye Blue Angus has a great May Month (Canada’s Speech and Hearing Month) photo of the day challenge on her blog, CREE-ZY, CRAZY SPEECHIE.
  • Lisa M. Geary, MS, CCC-SLP created printable information pages SLPs can share with parents, teachers and other educators, along with some other BHSM resources, on Livespeaklove.

Share your blog posts or other resources in the comments and we’ll continue sharing them each Thursday throughout May.

 

Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

Why do we Love Loudness?

Joul's scream

Photo by L.Bö

Why do we humans enjoy doing things that might be harmful?  Some people are crazy about dangerous activities like skydiving, extreme skiing and jumping off high cliffs wearing wingsuits.  In comparison, listening to loud music seems tame!  But the hearing loss and tinnitus that can result from too much loud music can be truly devastating, so we all need to turn it down or put in those earplugs, to protect the hearing that allows us to enjoy the music in the first place.

Interestingly, it seems that humans have always found ways to make loud sound and loud music. An early type of drum consisted of a pit dug in the ground, covered with heavy bark; dancing on the top of the pit produced a hollow, resonant sound.  Stone Age people also blew into hollowed-out animal horns to produce shrill, piercing tones.  And my favorite example is the bull-roarer–a thin piece of bone attached to a leather thong, which makes a roaring sound that is audible for miles when whirled in the air.  Such early noise-makers are thought to have been used mainly in warfare and for religious rites: to terrify and control, or to create a sense of wonder and mystery.

During the 19th century, people began to use principles of electromagnetism and novel ways to transform one type of energy to another.  These discoveries opened the door to new and louder musical sounds.  Since the advent of amplified music, there has been an increased demand for louder and louder instruments.  The sound pressure at concerts today often reaches levels that can damage fans’ hearing within minutes, but many enjoy it and come back for more.

I have collected survey data and anecdotal comments from people who enjoy loud music since 1995.  When asked to describe the feeling, common themes come up, such as a sense of power, strong connection to the music, and physical responses.  Here are a few examples

  • “Loud music allows me to completely ignore the outside world.”
  • “When you hear something that just grabs you, you want the volume cranked up so that you can feel it throughout your whole body, and let it pour into your soul.”
  • “Listening to loud music helps me to relieve stress.”

And it’s not just music!  Motorcycles, skimobiles, jet skiing, car racing, boom cars and shooting are other examples of dangerously loud activities with enthusiastic followings for whom the high sound pressure level is part of the pleasure.

As speech and hearing professionals, we are often in the position to counsel our clients, friends and family members to protect their hearing from loud activities they consider enjoyable.  How do you find the right words and the right tone of voice to reach someone who is hooked on listening to their favorite tunes through earphones while dodging rush hour traffic?  If you have an anecdote, suggestion, strategy, or even a simple phrase about promoting healthy listening in your community, please share it by posting a comment.

 

Ann Dix, CCC-A, grew up in a musical family and became interested in speech and hearing through her background playing and singing in rock and roll bands.   She has been a clinical faculty member of Boston University’s Speech Language and Hearing Sciences department since 1997.  Ann blogs at Now Hear This, a Boston University blog about sound and hearing. 

 

Auditory-Verbal Therapy: Supporting Listening and Spoken Language in Young Children with Hearing Loss & Their Families

Deep conversation

Photo by juhansonin

Approximately 95% of parents of children with hearing loss are hearing themselves (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004), and trends indicate that many parents are choosing spoken language as the primary mode of communication for their children with hearing loss. In fact, some states such as North Carolina, are reporting that parents are choosing spoken language options for their children with hearing loss more than 85% of the time (Alberg, Wilson & Roush, 2006), especially when they know spoken language is a viable outcome for their child. And, these parents are typically selecting approaches that support listening and spoken language, such as Auditory-Verbal Therapy, without initiating visual communication systems.

With early identification and the use of advanced hearing technology, children with even the most severe or profound hearing losses can access audition and follow an intervention approach focused on achieving typical developmental milestones in listening, speech, language, cognition, and conversational competence. Parents’ communication choices are based on their long-term desired outcomes for their child. Once those decisions are made, professionals providing early intervention and habilitative services should support the parents’ choices and provide the necessary support and intervention to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the child achieves those outcomes.

Definition of Auditory-Verbal Therapy

The Alexander Graham Bell (AG Bell) Academy for Listening and Spoken Language, which is based in Washington, DC, governs the certification of Listening and Spoken Language Specialists (LSLS), the practitioners qualified to provide Auditory-Verbal Therapy. The Academy defines the practice of Auditory-Verbal Therapy as:

“Auditory-Verbal Therapy facilitates optimal acquisition of spoken language through listening by newborns, infants, toddlers, and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Auditory-Verbal Therapy promotes early diagnosis, one-on-one therapy, and state-of-the-art audiologic management and technology. Parents and caregivers actively participate in therapy. Through guidance, coaching, and demonstration, parents become the primary facilitators of their child’s spoken language development. Ultimately, parents and caregivers gain confidence that their child can have access to a full range of academic, social, and occupational choices. Auditory-Verbal Therapy must be conducted in adherence to the Principles LSLS of Auditory-Verbal Therapy” (AG Bell Academy, 2012).

The Principles of Auditory-Verbal Therapy: Defining Practice

The Academy has endorsed a set of principles that delineate the practice of Auditory-Verbal Therapy:

  1. Promote early diagnosis of hearing loss in newborns, infants, toddlers, and young children, followed by immediate audiologic management and Auditory-Verbal Therapy;
  2. Recommend immediate assessment and use of appropriate, state-of-the-art hearing technology to obtain maximum benefits of auditory stimulation;
  3. Guide and coach parents to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language;
  4. Guide and coach parents to become the primary facilitators of their child’s listening and spoken language development through active consistent participation in individualized Auditory-Verbal Therapy;
  5. Guide and coach parents to create environments that support listening for the acquisition of spoken language throughout the child’s daily activities;
  6. Guide and coach parents to help their child integrate listening and spoken language into all aspects of the child’s life;
  7. Guide and coach parents to use natural developmental patterns of audition, speech, language, cognition, and communication;
  8. Guide and coach parents to help their child self-monitor spoken language through listening;
  9. Administer ongoing formal and informal diagnostic assessments to develop individualized Auditory-Verbal treatment plans, to monitor progress, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans for the child and family; and
  10. Promote education in regular school with peers who have typical hearing and with appropriate services from early childhood onwards.

The Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS):

Two Paths to Certification

The AG Bell Academy has designated two paths to certification for Auditory-Verbal practitioners: LSLS Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist (LSLS Cert. AVT) and the LSLS Certified Auditory-Verbal Educator (LSLS Cert. AVEd). The LSLS certification is awarded to qualified professionals who have met rigorous academic, professional, post-graduate education and mentoring requirements, and have passed a certification exam. Typically, LSLS certified practitioners are licensed audiologists, speech-language pathologists, or educators of the deaf who have the required background, training and experience in listening and spoken language theory and practice with children with hearing loss and their families. For additional information about certification as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS), speech-language pathologists and audiologists should contact the AG Bell Academy at academy@agbell.org, visit the website ate www.agbellacademy.org, or call (202) 204-4700.

References

Alberg, J., Wilson, K., & Roush, J. (2006). Statewide collaboration in the delivery of EHDI services. The Volta Review, 106, 3, 259-274.

AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language (2012). 2012 certification handbook. Available at www.agbellacademy.org

Mitchell, R.E. & Karchmer, M.A. (2004). Chasing the mythical ten percent: Parental hearing status of deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. Sign Language Studies, 4, 2, 138-163.

 

Dr. K. Todd Houston, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT, is an Associate Professor in the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at The University of Akron. His primary areas of research include spoken language acquisition in children with hearing loss, strategies for enhancing parent engagement in the intervention process, Auditory-Verbal Therapy, and telepractice. He directs the Telepractice and eLearning Laboratory (TeLL), an initiative to evaluate clinical practices in the area of distance service delivery in Speech-Language Pathology.