Beware of Scams Targeting Private Therapy Providers

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(photo credit)

Internet scams targeting Physical, Speech, Behavior, and Occupational Therapists are on the rise. Last year, I received 3 different scams via email. Initially, I was shocked that I, along with other Therapists across the United States and Canada, were being targeted for our specific services. After the shock subsided, I realized that it made perfect sense. We, as Therapists, are ideal targets. We have big hearts, want to see people improve, and we can be …well, there is no easy way to put this, a little on the verbose side. We do fit the perfect profile for a viral scamming nightmare. Typically these scams tug on our emotional heartstrings and appeal to our sense of altruism.

Shirley Kunkel, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Private Practice Owner in Escondido, CA and Speech Pathologist for 33 years, recalls a recent encounter with a scam artist.

I became mildly suspicious when they asked if I worked on receptive and expressive language, reading disorders and fluency disorders. I felt like their request was not specific enough. So I tried to ferret out what specifically they were trying re-mediate. Sounded like all the disorders I work on in listed in an Ad. Also, the person signed off as Mitchell one time and Michelle the next. I couldn’t understand why the mother who had used Dr. in her title would be coming to my town for 4 months. It is not a scientific research community at the local hospital where I live. They said they presently lived in London and sometimes visited Egypt. I did not lose any money, but I regret that I invested my time and energies into responding to this thief.

Unfortunately, many Therapists are being targeted and are unknowingly engaging in these traps. As a result, some Therapists are losing their hard-earned money by the thousands. Tom Jelen, Director of Online Communication with American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), has also noticed this growing problem within the Private Practice Community.

ASHA has received several reports from our members about a scam that is being attempted on members in private practice. The scammer is requesting to have his or her child visit a private practitioner while visiting the United States. The scammer requests to pre-pay for an evaluation and then sends a cashier’s check that is in an amount well above the evaluation charge. At this point, the scammer requests that the practitioner deposit the money in his or her bank and send back the overage (minus some money for the inconvenience). This scam has been reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

In the article, Fake Checks, the Federal Trade Commission describes normal banking activity.

Under federal law, banks generally must make funds available to you from U.S. Treasury checks, most other governmental checks, and official bank checks (cashier’s checks, certified checks, and teller’s checks), a business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, banks must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check, and the remaining funds must be made available on the second business day after the deposit.

However, just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good. It’s best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with or, better yet — until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

You Can Protect Yourself

The Federal Trade Commission offers some helpful ways to avoid being the latest victim of online scams in the article, “Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams.”

  • Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
  • If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
  • As a seller, you can suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one — or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability — don’t use the service.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

Remember, if you think you’ve been targeted by a counterfeit check scam there is something you can do. Simply report it to the following agencies:

Sources

  1. Fake Checks, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0159-fake-checks
  2. The Nigerian Email Scam, http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0002l-nigerian-email-scam
  3. Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/articles/naps29.pdf

A version of this post was originally published on The Independent Clinician.

Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP, is the Clinical Director of Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP, LLC in Longwood, FL. As a Speech Pathologist, Community Partner, Wife, and Mother of 3, Pamela enjoys mentoring the next generation of Speech Pathologists and hosting various community health events within Central Florida.

Website: www.speechorlando.com
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/speechorlando

ASHA’s Listen To Your Buds Campaign Brings Safe Listening Message to The 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show

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Annette Gorey, ASHA’s Public Relations Specialist, works to get ASHA’s booth ready for the show.

More than 150,000 people may hear more about ASHA’s Listen to Your Buds campaign at this week’s 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This marks ASHA’s fifth consecutive year as a CES exhibitor, and the ASHA Public Relations team couldn’t be more excited to spread the word about listening safely and preventing noise-induced hearing loss.

The Listen to Your Buds exhibit will be in the heart of the CES Digital Health Summit. And new this year, ASHA joins the show’s MommyTech Summit to connect with influencers, mommy bloggers, key children’s health and technology media and more. We’ll convey how Listen to Your Buds can help parents help young people use personal audio technology safely. As you probably well know, the parent blogosphere is more powerful than ever and growing fast. This is an increasingly important audience for our Listen to Your Buds campaign and outreach efforts.

The time has never been riper for a safe listening message. Spend a day with a toddler, elementary school student, tween or teen – or just walk around the mall, stand in line at Starbucks or stroll down the street – and you can’t help but see how kids are more connected to personal audio devices than ever before. Headphones have become a fashion item. The latest color iPod is in the hands of a six-year-old. Teens are at the gym listening to music. And this past holiday season, personal audio technology items were among the hottest gifts around. Now, in the wake of technology gift-giving and increased daily technology time, parents should monitor their child’s usage and volume levels and model safe listening behaviors – and the tips at www.listentoyourbuds.org can help.

We know even minimal hearing loss can affect children’s social interaction, communication skills, behavior, emotional development, and academic performance. Some parents are now realizing this, too. Eighty-four percent of parents are concerned that misuse of personal audio technology damages the hearing of children, according to the results of an online poll commissioned by ASHA last May. Parents also show overwhelming support for hearing screenings for tweens and teens—71% for 10- to 11-year-olds and 67% for 16- to 17-year-olds—according to a University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health released just last month.

ASHA’s exhibit booth in the Living in Digital Times area has information about hearing loss prevention, warning signs of hearing damage, and how to find a local ASHA-certified audiologist using ASHA’s ProSearch. ASHA member and Las Vegas audiologist Dr. Daniel Fesler, CCC-A and Buds Coalition Musician Oran Etkin will be on hand to talk with attendees.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), who puts on the CES each year, is among the Buds’ dozen dedicated sponsors; we joined forces in 2007. Recently, CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro highlighted just how important the Buds message is. “As a longtime supporter of the Listen To Your Buds youth campaign, CEA represents companies that create audio technologies for listeners of all ages,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. “We promote products, like noise-canceling and sound-isolating headphones, that help minimize outside sounds, and volume-controlled headphones that give control to parents of young children. New innovations are still to come that will help us practice and teach safe listening so that we can all listen for a lifetime.’”

Erin Mantz is a Public Relations Manager for ASHA.

Nothing Smaller Than Your Elbow Please

Elbows
(Photo credit)

Ear wax: We all have it. We all want it gone.

Most audiologists are often asked about ear wax. What is it? Why is it sticky? Why do I make so much? How can I get rid of it?

Say “yes” to ear wax.

Ear wax actually helps to keep your ears clean.

The wax traps dirt, dust and debris such as dead skin cells from the ear canal, dried shampoo and shave cream and possibly the occasional flea or gnat. This debris is held together by oil and wax secreted by glands living in your ear canal. The secretions also have natural antibiotic properties that help keep bad bacteria from growing in the warm dark and cozy environment of ear canals. And you thought it was just a nuisance!

What kind of wax do you produce?

Ear wax or cerumen comes in two varieties: wet (honey-colored and sticky) and dry (grayish and flaky). Ear wax type is highly heritable and considered a Mendelian trait that follows the laws of genetics. The trait of wet or dry ear wax was once attributed to a single gene but today, research has identified another gene contributing to this sticky situation. Your ear wax type was determined by your ancestry. Almost all people with European or African ancestry have wet wax. If you have northeastern Asian ancestry will most likely have the dry and flaky variety.

People have no trouble cleaning belly button lint and removing mucus from the nose, but most have no clue how to safely take care of excess ear wax. For most people the ear is self-cleaning and ear wax is removed by the natural flow of the wax out of the ear. Ear wax problems are typically self-inflicted. If you listen with ear phones for long periods of time, (at safe loudness levels please) wax can become trapped because the natural flow of wax out of the canal is blocked with the ear phone. However, most problems arise when the wax becomes impacted up close to the ear drum– down deep in the ear canal. This usually occurs from attempts to clean ear wax using implements of destruction such as cotton swabs, hair pins and tooth picks. If you choose to use these tools to clean your ears, you run the risk of puncturing the ear drum (ouch!) or impacting the wax in the canal in an area beyond the oil secreting cells. The soft wax dries up into a hard ball and can cause a temporary hearing loss or dizziness until it is professionally removed. Contact an audiologist if you think ear wax may be the cause of your hearing or dizziness problems. Audiologists will advise you on how to prepare for a professional ear cleaning. They often provide ear wax removal. And if you make more than is typical, the audiologist will schedule appointments once or twice a year to keep things under control.

Do you have too much of a good thing?

Stress (even physical exercise) and anxiety can increase wax production as well as medications that either activate or diminish the “flight or fight” response. Anatomical structures of the ear canal can cause wax to become trapped. When the ear canal twists and turns or narrows a bit, the wax will not easily flow from the canal. Even normal aging increases wax production.

Just as grandmother reminded us…put nothing smaller than your elbow in your ear and let Mother Nature do her work.

What other common questions do you get from patients in your audiology practice?

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.

Most Popular 2012 ASHAsphere Posts

2012 ASHAsphere Wordle

Since the year will soon be coming to a close, it’s the inevitable time for year-end lists.  Rather than be left out, we want to celebrate the upcoming New Year’s holiday by sharing with you the most popular posts from ASHAsphere for 2012.  A broad range of topics was presented this year.   We want to thank all of our contributors and readers for making ASHAsphere a continued success.  We look forward to another great year in 2013!  If there are specific topics you’d like to see us cover in 2013, please provide them in the comments.

The Best Speech-Language Pathologist Blogs from ‘A to Z’
Heidi Kay presents a fairly comprehensive list of SLP blogs in her popular post. The comments fill in any missing holes in her initial list.  This is a great post to start exploring the SLP blogosphere.

Google Forms and Spreadsheets—Fun Times with Data Collection!
How often are the words “fun” and “data collection” used in the same sentence?  Ruth Morgan shows you how to make your data collection a little more enjoyable with Google Forms and Spreadsheets.

Speech Therapy Ideas for Preschoolers
Sherry Artemenko provides some great tips for parents and SLPs getting started with a preschool aged population.  Key take-away: Play-Doh is an essential.

Habilitation – What it is And Why it Matters to You
Habilitation is getting a lot of national attention right now due to the implementation of the health care reform law. ASHA’s former Associate Director of Health Care Services in Speech-Language Pathology, Amy Hasselkus, gives readers a quick breakdown on what it is and why it matters to SLPs and Audiologists.

Auditory-Verbal Therapy: Supporting Listening and Spoken Language in Young Children with Hearing Loss & Their Families
Todd Houston discusses the trend of parents choosing spoken language options, such as Auditory-Verbal Therapy, for their children with hearing loss.

Fun Resource for Therapy Ideas: Pinterest
ASHA’s Maggie McGary breaks down Pinterest for the uninitiated. “SLPs and other therapists and educators are ‘pinning’ therapy ideas by the hundreds, making Pinterest an invaluable resource for therapy ideas and inspiration.”

Rate That App
“More and more SLPs are using apps in therapy and more and more speech/language apps are flooding the app store.” Deborah Taylor Tomarakos discusses how SLPs can determine which of those apps are appropriate and useful in therapy or educational settings.

Low-Tech Speech Therapy
While high tech tools and apps seem to be all the rage these days, Elizabeth Gretz shares some decidedly low-tech (and “super cheap”) options for speech therapy.

Using Your iPad in Dysphagia Therapy
Tiffani Wallace takes the app theme into the field of Dysphagia therapy.

Picture Books to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech
Kimberly Scanlon selected and reviewed a sampling of picture books for toddlers that are having difficulty producing Ms, Bs, or Ps.

Tom Jelen is the Director of Online Communications for ASHA.

Telehealth = Tell Me The Definition!

Yes, we know it’s coming, but what does it mean?  Some use the word “telehealth” to describe a virtual service delivery model between a patient and clinician.  Others expand the definition beyond the patient and clinician to also include innovative platforms.  Until the term is defined in the Scope of Practice for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) or American Academy of Audiology (AAA), acknowledged by insurance companies, and understood by policy makers, we will continue to vaguely use this term.  In the meantime, this is my humble perception of “telehealth” in the future.  Specifically, these are my ideas for a mobile application that is beneficial for the manufacturers, profitable for the audiologist, and most importantly, easily accessible and user-friendly for our patients.

What’s your definition of Telehealth?

(This post originally appeared on TinaTheAuD)

Tina Penman, CCC-A, AuD, is a clinical and research audiologist.  She received a BS in behavioral neuroscience (2006) and clinical doctorate in audiology (2010) from Northeastern University.  She has enjoyed her time serving ASHA as the SIG 8 CE Content Manager and looks forward to continued service to the organization.

Disclaimer:  Content represents only the blogger’s views.  Content does not represent the views of the blogger or any other organizations the blogger belongs to or represents.

Crickets: Beautiful Sound or Terrible Noise?

Pet Crickets, just hanging around

Photo by IvanWalsh.com

On a recent evening walk I stopped to listen to a familiar September melody: crickets singing.  In a flash the sound brought memories of the summer that had just passed by and summers that preceded it.  It also got me anticipating the season change, with colorful fall days followed by short winter ones, then melting ice and the burst of life that signals spring.  All this from a few crickets!

Attending the National Hearing Conservation Association annual convention about ten years ago I was invited to write my favorite sound on a little white index card.  That was the first time I learned of the Favorite Sounds project, and it was probably the first time I had ever thought of sound in that way.  In this ongoing study of favorite sounds, 70% of respondents have indicated they enjoy sounds categorized as “natural” whereas 30% chose “mechanical” sounds.  Further broken down this includes:

  • Natural sounds: weather related (29%); animals (29%); and human (24%)
  • Mechanical sounds: music (70%) and vehicles (13%)

Now that I am a convert to the topic, I add new favorites to my own list regularly–like crickets.  And I use Favorite Sounds as a discussion starter and writing prompt in my classes at Boston University.  It’s a good way to engage students, and if I can’t draw them out with favorite sounds, this follow-up question usually does: What are some sounds you dislike?   Through the years I’ve learned that a lot of people like the sound of crickets, but others can’t stand them–for various reasons.  One example: some people who experience tinnitus describe it as sounding like annoying crickets.  Tinnitus is a distressing condition associated with hearing loss, and with noise induced hearing loss in particular.

The topic of favorite and un-favorite sounds is relevant in hearing loss prevention and other broad questions of public health.   In the 1980’s some research groups investigated whether exposure to loud music is less risky to hearing when the music is considered by the listener to be pleasant vs. unpleasant.   Although the result of one study seemed to indicate such an effect, in general there is agreement in the research community that exposure to very loud sound is risky to hearing, enjoyable or not.   And noise can affect more than our hearing: current research suggests that exposure to noise in our daily lives is associated with stress and elevated risk of cardiovascular problems, even at levels well below those that can damage the hearing mechanism.

So whether you like the sound of crickets or close the windows when they begin their serenade, noise in the environment impacts all of us in many different ways.  Noise is one of the interesting topics addressed frequently by ASHA’s Special Interest Group 8: Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance.  Join us and learn more!

References

Lindgren, F., and Axelsson, A. (1983).  Temporary threshold shift after noise and music of equal energy.  Ear & Hearing, 4(4), 197-201.

Meinke, D., Lankford, J. and Wells, L. (2002).  Collecting favorite sounds. Available online at: http://hearingconservation.org/associations/10915/files/Favorite%20Sounds%20Handout.pdf

Moudon, A. V. (2009).  Real noise from the urban environment: How ambient community noise affects health and what can be done about it. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 37(2), 167-171.

Swanson, S.J., Dengerink, H.A., Kondrick, P., and Miller, C.L. (1987).  The influence of subjective factors on temporary threshold shifts after exposure to music and noise of equal energy.  Ear & Hearing, 8(5), 288-291.

 

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. 

 

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

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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.