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As a speech-language pathologist who worked in the school trenches for 17 years, I’m familiar with the push and pull that can sometimes take place between parents and professionals. During this week of Better Hearing and Speech Month focused on school-aged children, let’s focus on those relationships.

If you work with challenging parents, you might want to try sharing some of these strategies with them. You can attribute them to to ASHA, if that makes the situation less awkward, to encourage a positive and productive relationship that could last for a year or two, or even longer. You could send them home with students or go over them with parents at IEP meetings or on back-to-school night.

Good communication
  • Let the SLP know how best to communicate with you—phone, email, notes in child’s backpack—and the best times to reach you.
  • Stop by the SLP’s room on back-to-school nights and during parent-teacher conferences. Brief, personal contacts help build the relationship.
  • Let the SLP know right away if you have a question or concern. Deal directly with the SLP, rather than through other staff.
  • Make an appointment if you want to meet, rather than try to catch the SLP between students or in the hallway.
  • SLPs may work more than one school. It may take longer for the SLP to get back to you if they are working elsewhere that day.
Trust and respect
  • Give complete and accurate information about your child’s abilities and your concerns, and expect complete and accurate information in return from your SLP.
  • If your child receives speech-language services from an SLP in private practice, share information with your school-based SLP. Understand that SLPs in private practice aren’t held to the same eligibility guidelines and can treat disorders that cannot be addressed in a school setting.
Support
  • If you can, consider giving back—donate tissues or hand sanitizer, volunteer to prepare materials, remember the SLP during parent-teacher organization meetings, or collect designated materials for an upcoming project.
  • Prioritize meetings with the SLP and work with your child on speech-language “homework.”
  • Let the SLP know when you see that your child is making progress.

Together, SLPs and parents can become true partners in success—working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for a child.

What are your best tips for fostering a productive partnership with parents? Share below.

Stacey Ellison Glasgow, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA associate director of school services. sglasgow@asha.org

The post Parents and SLPs—Partners in Success appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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Consider becoming a SIG 3 affiliate to connect with peers who share a passion for treating voice and upper airway disorders.

  1. What would you say to encourage other colleagues to join SIG 3?

SIG 3 provides valuable opportunities to discuss clinical practice and research in voice and upper airway disorders, get advice from colleagues, and form lasting relationships with other clinicians with similar interests. If you have a strong interest in voice and upper airway disorders and want to expand your knowledge and your practice, it is an excellent resource.

  1. How has your involvement in this SIG improved your understanding of and engagement with voice and upper airway disorders?

I have always had a very strong interest in voice, since graduate school, and even before. Being a member of SIG 3 has helped me become more engaged in promoting knowledge about this area and advocating for our patients.

  1. What is one hot topic discussed by your SIG that you feel the rest of your profession should know about?

One area that always sparks discussion is the role of the voice-specialized SLP, and the role of the singing teacher (or voice coach), and how these overlap. In the area of voice, we have a lot of fantastic opportunities to collaborate with other professionals, but sometimes there are questions about where the role of one ends and the other begins. Having strong avenues of communication helps keep these relationships smooth.

  1. What are the specific tangible benefits? The less-tangible benefits?

Tangible benefits are of course access to the SIG Perspectives journal, and not just Perspectives of SIG 3, but articles relating to other fields. I find that really valuable when I am looking for information in an area where I am less familiar, or working with graduate students, or just looking for something interesting to read. Less tangible is the feeling of belonging to a group of professionals who share similar interests and dedication, and being involved has led me to do more presenting, teaching, writing, and reaching out to others in the field.

  1. What is your favorite recent Perspectives article, and why?

I really enjoyed Rita Patel’s article “Pediatric Laryngeal Endoscopic Imaging: Current Research and Clinical Implications.” This is such a big part of what I do, and I was interested in the discussion of stroboscopy and high speed endoscopy in children.

Maia Braden, MS, CCC-SLP, is the pediatric voice supervisor at University of Wisconsin Voice and Swallow Clinics, American Family Children’s Hospital. She is an affiliate of SIG 3; SIG 5, Craniofacial and Velopharyngeal Disorders; and SIG 13, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia). braden@surgery.wisc.edu

The post Why Join SIG 3, Voice and Upper Airway Disorders? appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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As a speech-language pathologist who works with preschool children who stutter, I often hear the same questions from parents: Is there anything I can do to improve my child’s chance of outgrowing stuttering?

Although stuttering is not caused by ways parents interact with their child, I can certainly recommend interaction strategies for SLPs to share with parents of their clients or students. Parents can incorporate these supports at the guidance of their SLP once their child starts showing signs of childhood-onset stuttering.

These five tips allow parents to support their child in facilitating confident verbal expression:

Increase the length of pauses between speaking turns. Children might feel pressure to get their words out before somebody else begins talking. Allowing for slightly longer pauses between conversational turns can decrease this perceived time pressure and may help reduce the demands on the child’s speech system associated with that pressure.

How To Clear Four Common Roadblocks to Coverage of Stuttering Treatment Take a look at how the law applies to stuttering discrimination. Children with communication challenges do best when introduced to AAC as early as 12 months. Helping Students and Their Families Accept Stuttering

Reduce your own rate of speech. It’s common to hear parents and other adults tell children who stutter to “slow down.” While well-meant, this statement could make children feel even more frustrated because stuttering just isn’t that simple! However, it can help to model an unhurried manner of speaking.

Reduce the number of questions you ask in succession. When reading to or playing with your child, it’s easy to slip into the role of “teacher” and inadvertently pepper them with questions to test their knowledge. An alternative interaction style involves using a more even balance of comments and questions. This reduces the demand for rapid, accurate responses from the child.

Rather than constant questioning, try making statements beginning with “I think” or “I wonder” as a conversational prompt. As another approach, make comments that might prompt your child to share details spontaneously. For example, instead of asking, “What did you eat for snack?” you can say, “I had an apple for my snack.”

Follow the child’s lead in play. Following your child’s lead helps reduce the amount of verbal instructions and questioning during play. Allow the child to direct play and support them by using good eye contact and providing encouragement and praise to help boost confidence.

Decrease length and complexity of language. Children often imitate the grammar and vocabulary used by their parents. Reducing the complexity of your language—grammar, vocabulary, sentence length—when communicating with your child creates a less demanding speaking environment.

What tips do you offer parents who want to support their child’s confidence in verbal communication? Please share in the comment section below.

Alexander Whelan MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician at The Stuttering Clinic at National Therapy Center and also blogs for The Stuttering Source. He is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 4, Fluency and Fluency Disorders. alex.whelan@nationaltherapycenter.com

The post 5 Tips to Share With Parents of Preschoolers Who Stutter appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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Pediatric speech-language pathologists often get asked about toy recommendations for young children. It makes sense because we often use toys in sessions to keep children engaged in learning. So, which toys should we recommend to parents?

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) compared traditional toys to electronic toys. The report concludes—not surprisingly—that traditional toys result in better child-caregiver interactions. These interactions provide multiple communication-learning opportunities. So how can we help parents look beyond advertising  that promises toys will teach children ABCs, numbers, shapes, and other seemingly important preschool skills?

Inexpensive, readily available objects can turn treatment into a flood of sensory experiences for the youngest of clients. Wow: The Big Difference a Tiny Toy Can Make Tackle foundational communication skills—not just language skills—by infusing fun and silliness into sessions.

The influence of electronic toys on a child’s development gets a lot of attention, but let’s focus specifically on toys helpful to little ones learning to talk. Notice, I wrote “helpful” and not “toys teaching little ones to talk.” In fact, toys cannot teach children communication. They are simply tools SLPs use to engage children in an activity so we can teach children communication.

Toys as tools, not teachers

A child who can imitate sounds and words might imitate sounds and words a toy makes, but does this mean the child learned to communicate? I say no. They learned to imitate. Repeating an electronic toy can’t teach a child to request, comment, protest, command, ask and respond to questions. Furthermore, it takes a person to truly teach children the social uses of language—like gestures, facial expressions, voice changes, intonation patterns—as well as how to listen attentively.

When a child focuses on a toy’s lights, buttons, music, sounds, switches and second languages, it might be challenging to engage the child in anything else. Especially while traveling or waiting, parents often give children access to handheld devices to encourage them not to engage. These “educational electronic toys” more commonly teach a child to be quiet.

When we help children learn to talk, we don’t want quiet!

When I help parents overlook the attractive allure of “learning toys” in favor of activities and toys to support communication development, I ask them two questions:

  • What words would your child want to say?
  • What words would you want your child to say?

Listing the child’s preferred words may include favorite people, foods, actions, or objects. The parent’s preferred list of words may include greetings and social niceties, such as “please” or “thank you.” Families also include words on their lists specific to their routines and traditions.

Toys to create context

Using the lists, help parents explore contexts in which to teach those words. Then, recommend toys to create those contexts. For example, if food words feature prominently on the lists, I might suggest pretend food or a toy kitchen. If saying “hi” and “bye” appear on the list, then try toys with people and doors. For action words—such as “go, stop, up, down, fast”—get out cars, play ball, or dance.

In general, I use toys in sessions—and recommend them to parents—that don’t need instructions or batteries: The toys children can play with in countless ways and that spark the imagination. If you have to stand in the toy aisle and read the box for more than a minute to figure out what the toy does, you may want to move on.

Choose toys to encourage interaction and creativity. Stick with traditional toys like blocks, dolls, puzzles, books, simple toy cars, and balls. The less a toy does, the more the child can do with it. The more a child can do with it, the more opportunities for interaction it allows.

Sometimes the “toy” isn’t even found in a store. Empty boxes and containers become some of the most enjoyed toys for little ones. In fact, you may be the best toy of all!

So, the next time a parent asks about toys to help with speech, suggest toys that do nothing.

Emily Ferjencik, MS, CCC-SLP works in private practice focusing on early language development and autism spectrum disorder. She also hosts the website and Facebook group, “Let’s Play: the speech and language way.emily@treehousespeechtherapy.com 

The post The Best Toys for SLPs Are the Toys That Do Nothing appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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As each little feeder prepares to transition from our 20-bed, level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to home, the interprofessional team assigns them one of three tracks to support their feeding skills progression. We do this as part of the rounds our team participates in together each day.

This approach helps monitor feeding as babies mature, provides prompt intervention when needed, and supports our ongoing goal of reduced hospital readmissions associated with feeding.

Here’s how each track works to support our smallest patients:

Third track infants receive the guidance of our nurses and lactation nurses to advance their feeding skills. These babies are monitored through our general outpatient pediatrics services after discharge. The pediatrician, dietitian, and lactation registered nurse (RN) monitor the infant’s feeding progress. A neonatologist also calls to check in with the family shortly after discharge. If feeding concerns arise, any of these providers can initiate a referral for an outpatient feeding evaluation with a speech-language pathologist skilled in pediatric feeding and swallowing evaluation and treatment.

NICU Practice Series: What’s the Best Follow-up After Discharge? Help NICU caregivers interpret what their preemie is telling them during feeding to support parent-infant relationships. Hearing screening and intervention prove particularly challenging with NICU babies.

Second track infants require a feeding plan generated by our NICU SLPs, occupational and physical therapists (OT/PT) to support their feeding skills. Prior to discharge, they also recommend an outpatient referral to an SLP for continued feeding evaluation. The outpatient SLP works in collaboration with the pediatrician, lactation RNs, and pediatric dietitians as the infant continues to mature.

These infants benefit from specific and evolving interventions after discharge such as special positioning, pacing, or use of a special bottle/nipple they may soon outgrow. We might also make this type of referral for ongoing outpatient services to families who need added support to learn how to provide ongoing feeding intervention and support.

First (or fast) track infants require advanced clinical feeding evaluation by the NICU SLP. These evaluations can include videofluoroscopic or modified barium swallow studies. We also make a plan for treatment to address highly complex medical or feeding concerns often associated with swallowing, craniofacial, cardiac, ongoing endurance, and respiratory conditions.

Keeping the same NICU SLP—who follows the infant throughout their NICU course and develops first-hand knowledge of their feeding progress—creates seamless continuity of care during the transition to an outpatient with this same clinician. The SLP makes an initial outpatient feeding appointment for the infant “on the fast track” prior to discharge.

Some infants receive this follow-up care as soon as three days post-discharge, while others can wait up to two weeks depending upon their needs. The NICU SLP continues to follow the infant for feeding as an outpatient as clinically indicated.

Additional means of monitoring feeding progress

Pediatricians, pediatric dietitians, lactation nurses, and outpatient SLPs are on the front line in working with our NICU graduates.

All disciplines, including the outpatient SLPs, can provide phone, video, or in-office appointments based on the infant’s ongoing needs. Our hospital provides two types of NICU follow-up clinics: One has a neonatologist who monitors progress in collaboration with the infant’s pediatrician. Our multidisciplinary NICU follow-up clinic provides a neonatologist, physical and occupational therapists, pediatric dietitian, social worker and NICU/outpatient SLP. This team monitors overall development and continues to educate and support the family.

Our low-birth-weight infants automatically quality for early intervention services. Anyone on the team can also generate early-intervention referrals when sensory, motor, or other developmental concerns are observed at any time along the way.

Our outpatient pediatric feeding SLPs also receive feeding evaluation referrals from a variety of sources outside the NICU. We work closely with inpatient speech-language pathology colleagues at our local children’s hospitals when infants transfer to our care. In addition, area pediatricians, family practice physicians, lactation RNs, dietitians, head/neck surgeons, and motor therapists do a great job of monitoring feeding progression and weight trajectory in order to direct infants our way anytime they require additional clinical feeding support.

It truly is a collaborative team effort to keep our smallest patients on track for feeding success!

Allyson Goodwyn-Craine, M.S., CCC-SLP, BCS-S, works in the neonatal intensive care unit and outpatient rehabilitation services at Sunnyside Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. She is also an adjunct professor at Portland State University and a guest lecturer at Pacific University.  allysoncraine@comcast.net

The post NICU Graduates: On Track for Ongoing Feeding Success! appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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It is an exciting time for speech-language pathologists and families of young communicators. Important new information exists on early identification and intervention for young children with or at risk for communication delays and disorders. And much of the information is easy to find online.

While not yet universally available, mobile technology is a useful tool for sharing information with families on communication development and supporting their participation in their children’s communication development.

Parents want to learn more about their children’s development but often express uncertainty about where and when to access information.

The range of options for parent information online grows rapidly, as do the number of apps providing guidance on social communication development. With this explosion of information comes another professional obligation for SLPs: helping family members navigate online resources for social communication development and intervention. So, what is an SLP to do?

The following tips can help guide your support to family members.

Learn about the family’s information literacy

Spend a few minutes discovering parents’ interests and concerns, as well as what resources they use for information. Families are motivated to learn about their children, but they’re also busy. Caregivers usually welcome guidance on what to expect from online resources, where to start, how to identify relevant content, and how to navigate sites.

Find out what they know and do. Parents likely use search engines as their primary tool for identifying resources. But even frequent users can get lost in the thousands of hits from a broad topic search, such as communication development.

You can help families by providing a few trustworthy online resources to get started such as ASHA’s Identify the Signs, CDC Screening and Diagnosis, or BabyNavigator websites. Share resources found on each site and offer suggestions for navigation. Also discuss the importance of understanding evidence-based practices for their child’s development.

Recognize the parent as an adult learner

Research suggests adults want relevancy and immediacy in their information seeking. In other words, they expect to find information they can use right now based on interests or concerns.

Caregivers seeking information about their child’s development because of concerns need different information than parents looking to provide a language-rich environment. Parents report knowing less about communication development than motor development, and we can emphasize the importance of social communication milestones.

Adults like to take the most efficient path to learning and SLPs can guide parents along that path of online learning. Rather than general directions such as, “Check out this website for great information,” direct them to sites with information you know will address their interests. If parents express an interest in social/communication milestones, they might feel concerns they can’t admit yet. Prepare follow-up suggestions for sites to help them screen for a delay or disorder.

Walking through a resource together and discussing parents’ perspectives can help them use information or tools correctly. Sharing direct links to downloadable resources gives caregivers tangible results in the shortest time possible.

For example, check out the developmental milestone charts from ages 7 to 24 months available on BabyNavigator, 16 Early Signs of Autism by 16 months, or Screen My Child. Video examples show parents what social communication looks and sounds like.

An interactive conversation with caregivers—either in person or using a video chat app—further serves to reinforce the social component of adult learning and allows you to answer questions immediately and build a supportive relationship with the parent.

Learning should be life-long

A final tip for using online resources to share information is to meet the family where they are now and to help them grow and learn as they support their child’s learning. Online tools that provide “what happens next” help families gain confidence in their parenting ability and encourage repeated use. While the tools will undoubtedly change with new innovations, their use for parent education will grow. Social communication is an important life-long skill!

How do you guide parents when they ask for help navigating online resources about their baby’s development? Share your tips in the comment section below.

Juliann Woods, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a professor in the School of Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University, and director of the Communication and Early Childhood Research and Practice Center. She is also the associate dean of research for the College of Communication and Information and an associate director in the FSU Autism Institute. Woods has 40 years of experience in early intervention. Juliann.Woods@cci.fsu.edu

The post Help Parents Navigate Online Resources About Communication Development appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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In this podcast, speech-language pathologist Amy Wetherby discusses the importance of early identification and early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She also shares a new resource—Baby Navigator—that she helped develop to educate and empower parents.

https://blog.asha.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/WetherbyBabyNavPod.mp3

SLPs and other professionals can diagnose autism at 18–24 months. However, it routinely does not get diagnosed until 4 or 5 years of age. The early signs of ASD can cause a cascading effect on brain development. Without early detection and intervention, these indicators can lead to significant social, language, and cognitive deficits—as well as challenging behaviors.

Read the full transcript for “Recognizing Early Signs of Autism.

Check out more resources for early identification and intervention in tomorrow’s post from Juliann Woods, associate director of research to practice for the Autism Institute in the Florida State University College of Medicine.

More about early identification of autism:

SLPs with the relevant expertise absolutely can diagnose ASD, typically as a member of a team.

Based on developing research pinpointing traits of autism in infants and toddlers, emerging tools help practitioners diagnose earlier.

Here’s how SLPs can get more involved in early identification of communication difficulties.

Training Program May Accelerate Diagnosis, Early Intervention for Autism

The post Recognizing Early Signs of Autism appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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Conducting a science fair project on stuttering can provide an outstanding opportunity for students to experience empowerment when it comes to their speech. As we launch into National Stuttering Awareness Week, I want to share the story of a student who did just that.

Last year, Jacob, a brilliant 12-year-old, elected to do his science fair project on the experiences of people—like himself—who stutter. He researched the disorder online, consulted with me and other university faculty, designed his own survey, and distributed it to hundreds of adults who stutter. Many of those adults rushed to provide feedback to his questions and were thrilled to help a child bold enough to take on this challenge.

Children Who Stutter Speak Out to Build Awareness, Confidence Helping Students and Their Families Accept Stuttering Balancing the Polarity of Stuttering Treatment With Client Goals

The project was a culmination of everything important we want to teach children who stutter. Jacob experienced all major components for comprehensive treatment techniques of school-aged children who stutter:

  • Learn about stuttering.
  • Connect with others who stutter.
  • Practice self-disclosure and advertising.
  • Stand up and speak in front of people.
  • Educate peers and adults about stuttering.

In the few weeks he spent on this project, he showed tremendous amounts of internal motivation to learn all he could from many others who shared his condition. “I knew so much about stuttering already, I thought it would be cool to hear what other people had to say,” Jacob told me.

People responded to his surveys with answers like:
  • “I feel frustrated when I stutter.”
  • “On the first day of class, I tell people I stutter. It makes things easier and takes the edge off.”
  • “Sometimes I get weird looks. I don’t think people are trying to be mean.”
  • “When I get stuck, it feels like something is gripping my throat really tight.”
  • “I think I care about it more than others.”
  • “Once I get going, I’m usually glad I said something, whether I stuttered or not.”
  • “I thought people would think less of me for stuttering.  But … every time I’ve asked, I’ve been wrong.  No one thinks less of me for stuttering.”

As his speech-language pathologist, I helped him prepare his questions, make contact with other people who stutter, rehearse his presentation and role-play challenging situations.  I also made sure he—and his family—were ready for this bold and challenging task. Jacob was accomplishing almost all of his treatment goals by participating in this science fair project. After compiling the results of his survey, Jacob educated not just his classroom, but the entire school on how stuttering affects a person’s life.

Students, parents, siblings, teachers, principals, administrative staff, custodians, coaches, and (very likely) other kids who stutter all checked out his presentation. He enjoyed confidently talking with judges and other kids about his findings from an “expert” point of view, knowing more about stuttering than probably everyone else.

“It’s a good thing you are doing this project … because people need to know,” commented one of his research subjects. Jacob’s bravery led to public awareness and personal empowerment. Talk with your students who stutter to see who’s ready to follow in his footsteps! And share the results in the comment section below.

Tricia Hedinger, MS, CCC-SLP, is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 4, Fluency and Fluency Disorders, and a regional director for the National Stuttering Association. thedinge@uthsc.edu

The post A Child Who Stutters Shares His Experience at a Science Fair appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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Editor’s note: This is the third post in a three-part series on civility and social media. See part one, “Got Civility? ASHA Digital Toolkit Promotes Respectful Online Communication,” and part two, “ASHA’s 4 Tenets of Civility: A Guide to Public Discussions.”

In response to concerns about incivility, especially in online conversations, ASHA has developed a digital toolkit of civility-related tools, templates and resources. Here are some examples of what you’ll find.

Hashtag

Use of this hashtag is voluntary, and is meant to encourage and/or acknowledge the civility of others in a social media discussion. For example, “Thanks for pointing out that perspective. I’m glad we could have this discussion! #ASHACivility”

Trolls

An Internet troll is someone who posts off-topic, aggressive or unnecessarily controversial complaints—usually anonymous. Cyberbullies (those who take trolling to the next level) can be detrimental to your online brand and image. Dealing with them, therefore, requires a careful approach that quells quarrels but maintains your dignity.

Starve the troll. Ignoring the poster and refusing to engage will likely bore the troll and persuade them to go elsewhere.

Kill the troll with kindness and facts. Trolls thrive on aggression and anxiety. You entice them if you become defensive and confrontational. Being polite—thanking them for their constructive criticism, for instance—can be a surprising reaction that neutralizes the situation. Cyberbullies often perpetuate misinformation or intentionally skew data to promote their agenda and gain traction. Address misinformation by sticking to the facts and ignoring their rudeness.

Befriend troll hunters. Trolls aren’t intimidated. Peer pressure from fellow users, however, can be a powerful deterrent. Don’t respond to negative comments from trolls; rather, respond—vociferously and graciously—to positive comments from supporters.

Police the troll. If you don’t have a comment policy on your blog or social media page, write one now. If you’re on someone else’s site, recommend to the host that they implement such a policy (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one example of a standard commenting policy). Policies should clearly state what will and will not be tolerated and actions against violators.  You can require that users provide a valid email address before they can participate to ensure that you can contact someone privately about inappropriate comments. It also discourages trolling by preventing anonymous users. You may also want to moderate comments.

Ban the troll. The final defense against trolls is banning them, which you can accomplish by blacklisting their IP address (their computer’s “fingerprint”). This is a last-resort action, because IP banning may accidently block legitimate users. It may also send the wrong message to social media users, who may view the action as censoring differing opinions.

Agree to disagree

Because we all hold our own thoughts, opinions and values, we will disagree. Respectful disagreement, however, can lead to new ideas and a much more productive discussion. Here are five key tips for disagreeing respectfully with someone.

Focus on facts. Prioritize logic over emotion, and fact over opinion. Emphasize your reasoning and the supporting information. You will be more convincing and will reinforce that the disagreement isn’t personal.

Don’t get personal. Focus on illustrating why you hold a particular position. Your goal is to present ideas effectively, not to just poke holes in the other person’s reasoning.

Recognize the good. Try to preface your statement with something that you like about the person’s original suggestion, and use that as a launching pad for your own ideas.

Remember to listen. If you completely tune the other person out, the conversation is never productive. Listen to (or read) carefully the opposing points. You might even end up reaching an even better, collaborative solution.

Know when to move on. “Agree to disagree” is a handy sentiment to articulate when needed. One of the best ways to respectfully disagree is knowing when to move on. It’s not always easy, particularly when you feel passionately about your points, but sometimes it’s the smartest action to take.

Kellie Rowden-Racette is ASHA social media manager. krowden-racette@asha.org

The post Handling Trolls on Social Media: A How-To Guide appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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May is upon us! Today marks the beginning of Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM), when public education about communication disorders shines a well-deserved spotlight on audiology and speech-language pathology. The 2019 BHSM theme is Communication Across the Lifespan, making the opening outreach focus on communication disorders in young children a great place to start. Today ASHA unveils new survey results that shed light on the state of parental awareness about the signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders. Early intervention and parental involvement has been a consistent focus—and passion—throughout my career.

So, I’m thrilled to lead the conversation on this topic this year in my role as 2019 ASHA president.

Since 2013, ASHA’s Identify the Signs campaign aims to improve awareness about early signs of these disorders. Twice in the campaign’s history, ASHA surveyed its members to find out what clinicians were seeing in relation to early identification of children with speech, language, and hearing challenges: Do the parents with whom they interact recognize early signs of communication disorders? Do they appreciate the benefits of early intervention? How long do they wait to get help for their children? What barriers keep parents from seeking treatment early?

The poll released today, however, asked these questions of parents—the first time the Identify the Signs campaign went straight to the source. ASHA, partnering with the polling firm YouGov, conducted a nationally representative poll of more than 1,100 parents of children ages 0 to 8 years old. The results provide a snapshot of how U.S. households perceive communication disorders.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of ASHA’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, so another key goal was to get a read on households across the most populous racial and ethnic minority groups to better understand and serve these populations and advance our own cultural competency.

The results are both enlightening and reinforcing. Among findings, the poll indicates parents still aren’t aware of many warning signs of early communication disorders. In fact, only 23% could identify 75% or more of the signs from a provided list. Only 5% correctly identified all the signs.

Results also reveal one in four parents have concerns about their child’s ability to communicate. This indicates a significant worry about communication delays among today’s parents, underscoring the importance and relevance of our work as audiologists and SLPs. Others may not fully appreciate this widespread and pressing need—making findings like these a powerful self-advocacy tool.

Other findings are truly gratifying, showing how much parents appreciate communication milestones and the value they see in our work. These include:

  • 95% of parents think communication milestones are among the most important developmental milestones.
  • 95% also believe untreated communication disorders can harm a child’s academic performance, including the ability to read and write, and 94% understand communication disorders can harm a child’s social skills.
  • More than eight in 10 (81%) of parents who sought treatment for their child said they saw a “great deal” or a “good amount” of improvement.

This last statistic is one we should not just take pride in but shout from the rooftops. I’m not sure how many professions can claim such an overwhelming success rate, especially as determined by parents—who, understandably, set a high bar when it comes to their child’s outcome.

I hope you will take the time to review the study and then join me in sharing this information broadly, bringing it to the attention of your respective professional and personal communities. ASHA will post resources to help you share these statistics on social media accounts throughout May on the BHSM website. Also participate in the social media contest, Speaking Up For Communication.

ASHA members can also use these findings as fodder for advocacy at the grassroots level. I invite you to reach out to your local newspapers, television, and radio stations offering to discuss the results. I’ll do the same, starting with a national media tour kick-off on May 1. But I need help!

Your efforts in making local media contacts can help families in your area learn more about early signs of communication disorders as well as raise the profile of our professions and the important work we do. ASHA created easy-to-use templates to use in contacting media.

We work every day to give people a voice. Let’s use ours, collectively, to make the case for the importance of communication, the needs of those who face communication challenges, and the critical, effective work our professions do every day.

Happy BHSM!

Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP, is 2019 ASHA president. She’s a recently retired professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education and Disability Services, and former provost’s associate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is CEO of Dynamic Resources, which publishes SLP-written children’s books. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education. shari.robertson@iup.edu

The post Poll Shows Caregivers Need Help Flagging Early Warning Signs appeared first on Leader Live — Happening now in the speech-language-hearing world.

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