Tots as Young as 2 Use Tablets, and Parents Are Worried, ASHA Survey Finds

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A new ASHA survey of U.S. parents finds significant percentages reporting technology use by very young children. Additionally, more than half of the parents surveyed report feeling concern that technology use could negatively affect their young children’s ability to communicate.

Conducted this past March, the survey polled 1,000 parents of children ages 0 to 8. Its release occurs during May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a time for ASHA and its members to raise awareness of speech, language and hearing disorders—and spotlight the importance of communication health.

Although the fact that most children use “smart” technology today may not be surprising, just how early it begins may be. The survey results show that more than two-thirds of the respondents say their 2-year-olds are using tablets, more than half say they use smart phones, and one in four indicate their 2-year-olds are using some form of technology at the dinner table. All of this raises questions about how this tech use will affect children’s communication development.

Some findings from the survey:

  • 55 percent of parents have some degree of concern that misuse of technology may be harming their children’s hearing, and 52 percent have concerns about speech and language skills.
  • 52 percent  say they are concerned that technology negatively affects the quality of their conversations with their children; 54 percent say they are concerned that they have fewer conversations with their children than they would like to because of technology.
  • Parents recognize the potential hearing hazards of personal audio devices: 72 percent agree that loud noise from technology may lead to hearing loss in their children.
  • 24 percent of 2-year-olds use technology at the dinner table. By age 8, that percentage nearly doubles to 45 percent.
  • By age 6, 44 percent of kids would rather play a game on a technology device than read a book or be read to. By age 8, a majority would prefer that technology be present when spending time with a family member or friend.
  • More than half of parents say they use technology to keep kids ages 0 to 3 entertained; nearly 50 percent of parents of children age 8 report they often rely on technology to prevent behavior problems and tantrums.

These results present an opportunity to deliver communication health messages nationally and in our circles of influences and local communities. Earlier this month, ASHA shared the survey results with media around the country via a satellite media tour, and will continue to spread the word this month through social media. ASHA also has created new resources with a technology theme for its Identify the Signs public education campaign.

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Visit www.asha.org/bhsm to find resources you can use to reach out to the media and public in your community. There you will also find the full survey results.

Looking beyond Better Hearing and Speech Month, the summer presents an ideal time to continue to push out these messages. For instance, 55 percent of parents polled in the survey said their children age 8 or younger use technology during car trips. Members could present this statistic and note that this is an ideal time for a family to put the tech devices away and focus on communicating.

We hope members will find such information compelling and useful for building awareness of communication health; speech, language and hearing disorders; and the professionals—certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists—who are best educated and trained to address them.

 

Judith L. Page, PhD, CCC-SLP, is ASHA 2015 president. She served as program director for Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Kentucky for 17 years and as chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences for 10 years. judith.page@uky.edu

Collaboration Corner: Knowing the Big Picture and Little Details of Autism

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As Autism Awareness month wraps up, I thought I‘d share my learning moments from working 15-plus years with my students on the spectrum, their families and my dedicated co-workers who support them:

  • Autism is a spectrum. There’s not a cure or a fix, but there are evidence-based interventions and nuances for each child that will help him or her succeed. My job (and yours) is to recognize those little details and shine a light on them.
  • I’ve developed a super appreciation for things that spin, shake, light up and squish. I also appreciate when these features suddenly become appalling and over-stimulating.
  • Sometimes the best way to get a child’s attention is to speak just above a whisper or not talk at all. Less is more and often things don’t just sound loud, they feel loud to a person with autism.
  • Sand and water play are seriously awesome.
  • Regardless of where a child is on the spectrum, you can find an activity that feels like fun and learning at the same time.
  • Candy doesn’t always taste or feel good, but hot sauce tastes delicious on French fries.
  • Take the short and long view on augmentative and alternative communication. Work on the here and now to make your clients efficient communicators, then model your expectations to bring them to the next level. Make them life-long communicators.
  • Students and families will show you when they are ready—ready to try something new, ready to accept who they are. You just have to listen, be patient and push. But not too hard.
  • Finally, having co-workers who are cued in and can step in and help at a moment’s notice is invaluable and—when in action—nothing less than a work of art.

What lessons have you learned from working with clients on the spectrum?

 

Kerry Davis EdD, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist in the Boston area, working with children who have significant communication challenges. She conducts trainings and workshops, and serves as a volunteer clinician and consultant for Step by Step Guyana, a school for children with autism in South America. The opinions expressed in this blog are her own, and not those of her employer. kerrydav@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Join Us in ‘Speaking Up for Communication’ this May

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Each May, ASHA looks for new, exciting and effective ways to educate the public about communication disorders as part of Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM). We’re excited to announce that this year, we’re debuting a new social media platform for members to allow them to easily share BHSM information and build awareness at the grassroots level. Members who sign up for the service will receive two to three emails a week during May with suggested social media posts.

Those who participate by recruiting others and sharing links will be entered to win a range of prizes, including gift cards as well as BHSM and ASHA merchandise. It’s an easy and fun way for you to build awareness and support for your profession. Sign up today to join us in “Speaking Up for Communication.”

There will be plenty of interesting material to post, like the results of a new ASHA national survey. We asked parents of infants through 8-year-olds about their kids’ use of technology. According to those parents, a majority of young children use devices such as smartphones and tablets during critical years for communication development. Stay tuned for the results, which will be announced with a nationwide media tour starting May 8.

Those results will also serve as the basis for a host of different BHSM digital assets—helping ASHA bring the topic of communication to the forefront. Key messages include the importance of talking and interacting with kids in the tech age and establishing safe listening habits early. We expect significant buzz about the survey that should help you capitalize on sharing BHSM and related resources in your work and community.

Of course, if you prefer to spread these key messages in more traditional ways, ASHA will provide press release and media advisory templates. Be sure to visit the BHSM member resource page for these and more.

You’ll also find our free 2015 poster, bookmark, coloring page, and Facebook photo, for example. And you can read about how other members celebrate BHSM by clicking through our “Share Your Stories” map. We’ve already heard from a number of members with great stories for this year!

Make sure to keep checking back, as we’ll be adding details on other BHSM activities, including a 2015 Twitter party and a Listen to Your Buds concert we’re hosting in the nation’s capital.

Finally, remember to showcase your BHSM pride with our 2015 products, which feature the tagline “Early Intervention Counts”—a message worth sharing! Order today!

Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.

fpierson@asha.org.

 

New Global Campaign Takes on Noisy Leisure Activities

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Worldwide, the statistics are sobering:

  • 360 million people have disabling hearing loss.
  • 43 million people between the ages of 12–35 years live with disabling hearing loss.
  • Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention.

Of course, none of this likely comes as a surprise to ASHA members, particularly audiologists, who are on the front lines of care for people with hearing loss. The good news is that we are going to hear a lot more about this serious health issue with the help of a high-profile group.

Today, on International Ear Care Day, the World Health Organization is elevating the profile of hearing loss—specifically noise-induced hearing loss—by launching a new campaign called Make Listening Safe.

The campaign educates the public about hearing dangers posed by noisy leisure activities and promotes simple prevention strategies. Young people are the focus because an increasing number are experiencing hearing loss. As the creator of the highly successful Listen to Your Buds campaign, WHO asked ASHA experts to advise on Make Listening Safe. A role the association enthusiastically embraced.

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ASHA used Listen to Your Buds to provide an early warning on potential hearing dangers from misuse of personal music players and the need for safe listening. Today, as this technology is nearly ubiquitous, the campaign is going strong on a variety of fronts.

One of ASHA’s most successful ventures is its safe listening concert series. The series educates young children about protecting their ears in a fun, interactive way by bringing innovative musicians and performances to U.S. schools. A new video showcases the most recent concert series, which took place in six Orlando-area schools in conjunction with ASHA’s 2014 convention.

Misuse of personal audio devices is also a key area of focus for Make Listening Safe. According to WHO, among teenagers and young adults aged 12 to 35 years in middle- and high-income countries, nearly 50 percent are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of these devices.

This is one of the new global estimates being released with the launch of Make Listening Safe. In addition to a high-profile unveiling in Geneva, WHO is issuing a variety of materials featuring statistics on the problem’s scope, the hearing loss consequences and action steps that parents, teachers, physicians, managers of noisy venues, manufacturers and governments can take to make listening leisure activities safer.

ASHA asks members to take up the campaign. Here are just a few ideas on how you can get involved:

  • Utilize the WHO’s eye-catching public education materials—including posters, a fact sheet, and an infographic—with peers, patients, friends and loved ones.
  • Engage in grassroots public education, such as sharing statistics and prevention tips on social media or holding a free hearing screening.
  • Approach local media to pitch a story. The campaign’s launch with accompanying statistics is a great news hook. You can tie the story to your local community by highlighting an event your practice is hosting or offer tips for safe listening at local noisy venues (e.g., stadiums, concert venues/clubs). This is also an excellent consumer health story for a television station, particularly because it offers “news you can use” such as easy prevention tips.

The focus on noise-induced hearing loss in young people is not limited to March. While the WHO campaign will be ongoing, ASHA will also poll the public about safe listening practices. Our results will provide more opportunity for outreach during Better Hearing & Speech Month in May and beyond. Stay tuned!

Click here for more information. Questions may be directed to pr@asha.org.

 

Judith L. Page, PhD, CCC-SLP, is ASHA’s new president. She served as program director for Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Kentucky for 17 years and as chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences for 10 years. 

Happy New Year, ASHA Family!

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Happy New Year to my whole ASHA family – those dedicated to helping people achieve “human wholeness!” I am so proud to be part of this profession and believe I was predestined to be an SLP. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was My Fair Lady. I’ve since become a modern-day Henry Higgins and even have worked with university teaching assistants on accent reduction! I was also a recipient of the care engendered by those in my as-yet-unchosen field when an amazing neurologist and SLP “asked me questions” (a child’s interpretation of diagnostics) and guided my family during my recovery from a head injury significant enough to require last rites in 1971. 

Although a practicing member for more than 25 years, I didn’t attend my first ASHA convention until 2013. I went to update my clinical and research skills, but also to visit school friends from Northwestern who still live in Chicago. I particularly enjoyed the courses presented by a then recent ASHA fellow and complimented her in our hotel elevator. I also asked a question about spring 2014 events. She not only answered my questions, but allowed my family to stay in her family’s home during our visit!

One Chicago friend (an organizational psychologist) was shocked at the friendliness and trust exemplified by even the offer of such hospitality and further astounded when I told her nearly 15,000 people attended the 2013 conference. I explained that ASHA members are friendly, helpful people. That presenter and new acquaintance was no fool, however, she did her due diligence and called my current work ‘family’ to vet my responsibility.  I, in turn, offered her the use of our Orlando lake home as she celebrated being named “Fellow” with her family.

That story shows how I, and many of my peers, view ASHA as a large extended family, which was reinforced by my encounters at the 2014 “Generations of Discovery” convention. Harry Belafonte, along with his daughter and granddaughter, highlighted how family focus has directed their lives. At the awards event, Annie Glenn explained how services such as her 1973 stuttering therapy, “save us from being solitary souls,” while father-son TV journalists the Geists received her “Annie” Award for their communication contributions. Honors of the Association recipient, Nan Bernstein-Ratner, gushed that obtaining the Glenns’ autographs on a photo and copy of  the Geists’ book, The Right Stuff, for her son were her most moving moments of the convention. Voice expert Daniel Boone shared how excited he was that his son and granddaughter were visiting from Tampa. We were saddened by Jeri Logemann’s passing, but her impact is ever present, from the pins at an exhibitor’s display to shared remembrances of a holiday party at her home.

None of us are “solitary souls” and our uniquely human abilities to enjoy conversing and sharing with our families and friends are a testament to the vital work each of us has chosen to undertake. For the new year, I wish my ASHA family wisdom (recalling John Rosenbek’s closing session’s  “Neuroplasticity” message that we “First do no harm”), a wealth of well-wishers (for our world has its woes), and work as we help heal the world in 2015!


Denise Dancull, M.A., CCC-SLP
is a pediatric SLP with more than 25 years experience specializing in cleft palate and cochlear implant services. Please feel free to contact this proud parent, bibliophile and theater fan at denise.dancull@nemours.org.