Healing Voices

Healing Voices (1)By Leda Scearce, MM, MS, CCC-SLP author of Manual of Singing Voice Rehabilitation: A Practical Approach to Vocal Health and Wellness

Singing is a part of virtually every culture and is fundamental to our human experience. In the United States, singing is enormously popular, as evidenced by the vast number of people engaged in all kinds of singing activities. Over 30 million Americans participate in choral singing alone (Chorus America, 2009). Shows such as The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and American Idol illustrate how passionate we are about singing. From the amateur recreational singer to the elite celebrity, we sing as soloists and in ensembles, with instruments and a cappella, in classical and contemporary styles, on stage, in concert, and in the shower.

Every person’s voice is unique and identifiable, and our voices can be a big part of our identity and how we see ourselves in the world. This is especially true for singers, for whom the voice is not only intricately tied to self-image and self-esteem but also may be a source of income and livelihood, creative expression, spiritual engagement, and quality of life. For a singer, a voice injury represents a crisis. Because of the specialized needs of singers, it takes a team—including a laryngologist, speech-language pathologist, and singing voice rehabilitation specialist—to get a singer back on track following an injury or voice disorder. Singing voice rehabilitation is a hybrid profession, requiring in-depth clinical and scientific knowledge married with excellence in teaching singing.

Voice problems are rarely isolated in etiology—usually multiple factors converge to create an injury. These factors may include poor vocal hygiene, inadequate vocal technique, an imbalance in vocal load and medical problems (allergies and reflux are common in singers, but thyroid, pulmonary, neurologic, and rheumatologic conditions are among the illnesses that may affect the voice). The singing voice rehabilitation process must encompass all elements that may be contributing to the problem: medical factors, vocal hygiene, vocal coordination and conditioning, vocal pacing, and emotional factors. Continue reading

The Ineffectiveness of Checklists in Diagnosing Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

Margaret_Fish  Fish_HHTCASE2E_low res

By Margaret Fish, MS, CCC-SLP, author of Here’s How to Treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Second Edition

Sorting through evaluation findings for young children with complex speech sound disorders can be confusing and challenging. As SLPs we strive to complete thorough evaluations and make sense of our evaluation findings to achieve an accurate diagnosis; however, many of the characteristics of CAS overlap with other types of speech sound disorders. Certain key characteristics from a CAS checklist such as inconsistency, atypical prosody, groping, or vowel errors may raise red flags for a diagnosis of CAS, but these characteristics alone should not predetermine the diagnosis until a thorough analysis of the child’s speech productions is completed.

Following are case studies of two children recently seen for consultations. Both children had an incoming diagnosis of CAS, but only one child was given a definitive diagnosis of CAS at the conclusion of the consultation. The other child demonstrated a number of characteristics commonly associated with CAS, but after careful examination of the child’s speech, the underlying nature of the challenges was not consistent with the core impairment of CAS that ASHA (2007) describes as the “planning and/or programming (of) spatiotemporal parameters of movement sequences.”

Case Study 1.

Mark, age 3 years, 7 months, had recently received a diagnosis of CAS by a diagnostic team at a local hospital. The diagnosis was based primarily on the following factors:

  • Reduced speech intelligibility (judged to be 50% intelligible)
  • A nearly complete repertoire of consonants and vowels
  • Inconsistent productions of the same word
  • Occasional vowel errors
  • Atypical speech prosody

Because of Mark’s limited speech intelligibility, inconsistency, vowel errors, and prosody differences, it was understandable how a diagnosis of CAS was made, as these characteristics often are associated with a positive diagnosis of CAS. Indeed, the use of a checklist of CAS characteristics alone could lead a clinician to conclude that Mark had CAS.

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How to Work with Interpreters and Translators

Henriette_Langdon  Langdon_WWIT  Terry_Saenz

By Henriette W. Langdon, Ed.D., FCCC-SLP and Terry I. Saenz, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, authors of Working with Interpreters and Translators: A Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists

Our world is increasingly heterogeneous. English is no longer the only language spoken in the United States, England, or Australia. French is not the only main language spoken in France and neither is German the only language spoken in Germany. Immigration caused by political and economical changes has dispersed many people to other countries in the world in search of better opportunities. Consequently, communication between these individuals and residents of the different countries is often disrupted due to the lack of a common language. This challenge has existed throughout humankind, but it seems that it has increased in the last century or so. There have always been people who knew two languages that needed bridging, but now this urgency is more pronounced. The need for professionally trained interpreters was first noted following the end of WWI when the Unites States was first involved in world peace talks alongside many nations with representatives who all spoke a variety of languages. This historical event eventually led the League of Nations to the foundation of the École d’Intèrpretes in Geneva, Switzerland in 1924. Since that time, many other schools that train bilingual interpreters to participate in international conferences have been established. The AIIC [Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence (International Association of Conference Interpreters)] Interpreting Schools directory lists a total of 87 schools worldwide: http://aiic.net/directories/schools/georegions. The reader can gather information on which specific language pairs are emphasized in the various training schools; for example, Arabic-English; French-Spanish, Chinese-English, and so forth. Thus, interpreting for international conferences is a well-established profession today, offering specific training and certificates. However, interpreting is necessary not only for international conferences, but also to assist in bridging the communication in everyday contexts such as medical or health, judicial, educational (schools) and the community at large. Training and certification in areas such as medical and judicial have slowly emerged and are available to those who need them in various states throughout the United States. Legislation has been the primary force in the establishment of certificates in the areas of medical and legal interpreting. However, training in other areas where interpreting is needed such as education, and our professions, speech pathology and audiology, are notoriously lacking. There are some situations where medical interpreters can assist speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists in a hospital or rehabilitation center, but even those interpreters may not have the specific terminology and practice or procedures to work effectively with our professionals. Working with Interpreters and Translators: A Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists is a second revised and expanded edition on this topic that provides SLPs, audiologists, and interpreters who collaborate with them some concrete tools and strategies on how best to conduct interviews, conferences, and assessments when the client and/or family does not speak English fluently.  The proposed process is based on information gathered from other interpreting professions. The research, and some personal interviews with audiologists in particular that were conducted to assemble this information, indicate that the process is conducted haphazardly at best.  The literature available on the collaboration between SLPs and interpreters indicates that both parties are not secure about procedure and must learn how to work together by trial and error. Often the SLP does not trust the interpreter and the interpreter does not follow suggested procedures, such as failing to interpret all that is being said, conducting a side conversation with a parent during a meeting, and giving the child unnecessary cuing during testing (if tests are available in the child’s language, which is primarily Spanish). Literature on working effectively with audiologists is almost nonexistent; therefore, the first author resorted to several personal interviews with audiologists, a specialist of the deaf and hard of hearing, and professors of audiology throughout the country. Often individuals who perform the duties and responsibilities of the interpreter and who are hired to do this job are not fully bilingual; they may speak the two languages, but may not be able to read or write the language they are using to interpret. These interpreters are often not respected, are not treated as professionals, and their pay is very low.

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Managing the Expectations of the Common Core State Standards

Lissa_Power-deFur      PowerdeFur_CCSS

By Lissa A. Power-deFur, author of Common Core State Standards and the Speech-Language Pathologist: Standards-Based Intervention for Special Population

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in school districts across the country have returned to school, often with the new (or renewed) obligation of addressing the “Common Core” (or the “Career and College Readiness Standards” as the Common Core State Standards [CCSS] is referred to in some states.) The SLPs’ reactions are likely to include the following:

  • With all the students on my caseload, how can I possibly do something else?
  • This is just another education fad; it’ll pass in a couple of years.
  • From what I hear about these standards, they aren’t applicable to the students on my caseload.
  • I’m focusing on the IEP goals, they are most important for my students.

These are common reactions, reflecting the current challenges and pressures of working as an SLP in the schools. However, it is important that all SLPs working with children, whether in schools or other settings, understand that the CCSS is now the lens through which educators must view the achievement of all students, including students with speech-language impairments. The education standards movement has been in place for over two decades, with states first adopting their own standards and developing assessments to measure student achievement of those standards. More recently, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, used teams of educators, business professionals, and policy-makers to develop the Common Core State Standards. Released in 2010, 43 states have adopted the CCSS. The Standards serve as the basis for state assessments developed by two consortiums, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

As SLPs study the CCSS, they will find that the Standards encompass a hierarchy of language skills from phonological awareness to the ability to understanding diverse perspectives, from comprehension of discipline-specific vocabulary to syntactic complexity in speech and text. The CCSS emphasize oral language and phonological awareness in the primary grades, as kindergarteners must demonstrate skills in counting, pronouncing, blending, and segmenting syllables in spoken words. The CCSS expect secondary students to use oral communication effectively to present findings and support their evidence clearly and concisely using a style appropriate to the audience and task. In the vocabulary area, students must demonstrate such diverse skills as mastery of morphology for understanding meaning to becoming adept at understanding euphemisms, hyperbole, and paradox. Students’ skills in the conventions of Standard English develop from early skills in using nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to secondary level skills in using parallel structure in their oral and written communication.

The CCSS provide an excellent vehicle for SLPs to use to support collaboration with their education partners. As SLPs communicate with teachers, the CCSS provides a common vocabulary to describe student expectations and performance, thereby facilitating the education team’s focus on needed language and communication skills. A typical child on the SLP’s caseload will have difficulty acquiring standards from prior grade levels. The CCSS can serve as a resource SLPs can use in explaining the effect of children’s speech-language impairments on their ability to master specific standards. By using the language of the CCSS in describing students’ performance, the SLP’s ability to communicate with teachers and administrators about the challenges the child is and will be facing is enhanced.

SLPs will find that an analysis model facilitates their ability to integrate the standards into their intervention planning. A 5-step model builds upon SLPs’ extensive knowledge of the language and metalinguistic skills and leads to development of collaborative direct and classroom-based intervention activities. In step 1, SLPs work collaboratively to identify the standards needed for success. SLPs will analyze the CCSS, identifying the specific expectations that will rely on the student’s language and communication skills. Due to the magnitude of the CCSS, this task quickly becomes overwhelming. Therefore, SLPs are urged to follow the practice of their education partners—creating teams to review the standards. By working with colleagues, SLPs can focus on the areas that relate to their expertise. For example, SLPs with specialization in fluency can review the standards for expectations for oral communication and presentations. SLPs with a passion for literacy can focus on these standards. Another approach would be for SLPs to focus on all standards or the grade levels they serve (or the grade levels their students have just left and will be moving into). Not only does teamwork minimize the workload, it enables the creative generation ideas that flow from a collaborative group of professionals. The Plural book, Common Core State Standards and the Speech-Language Pathologist:  Standards-based Interventions for Special Populations, provides SLPs with examples of the language and communication expectations of the standards.

The model’s second step focuses on detailed identification of the language and communication skills needed for success. This analysis addresses phonology, morpho-syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic and metalinguistic skills. The SLPs will find standards that require competency in speech sound production and fluency as well. This is another task completed well by a team of SLPs, reducing the workload and facilitating the brainstorming and analysis. The result will be a comprehensive understanding of the standards.

Step 3 shifts the attention from the standards to individual students. The SLP will complete a thorough analysis of a student’s current skills and needs. Data sources include standardized assessments, observations of the child in the classroom, classroom work samples (e.g., narratives, spelling tests), and probes of specific skills. Many of these items will be found in the Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) of the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, SLPs will find that they will want to generate skill-specific probes to understand the nuances of the child’s needs as they plan for intervention.

At this point, the SLP’s focus shifts to consideration of the expectations in the child’s classroom. The SLP will use information from observations to identify the language of the classroom communications, especially directions, texts, and instructional activities. A specific focus on morphological-syntactic constructions and vocabulary will enable the SLP to focus on specific skills the child will need for success. If multiple SLPs have children in this same classroom, this can be a joint activity.

The final step is to design intervention. Children’s academic success relies on their ability to apply the language and communication skills developed under the guidance of the SLP into real-world settings (i.e., the classroom). Therefore, the intervention should be a combination of direct intervention and collaborative classroom-based intervention. This combination of approaches allows for a specific focus on skill attainment, followed by application of that skill. The SLP may find it particularly valuable to participate in classroom center activities, working with specific children and facilitating their mastery of skills through collaboration with other students. This step relies on a collegial working relationship with the child’s classroom teacher(s), with time for planning to enable both professionals to identify which skills they will focus on and the nature of interventions.

The use of a stepwise model for analyzing the standards and applying this information to the strengths and needs of a specific child enables the SLP to tailor intervention to what matters for children—academic success. It is only through the SLP’s comprehensive knowledge of the academic standards and analysis of the specific linguistic expectations of the standards that students with language and communication difficulties can successfully meet the academic demands of 21st century schools.

About the Author 

Lissa A. Power-deFur, PhD, CCC-SLP, ASHA-F, is a professor in the communication sciences and disorders program at Longwood University in Virginia. Among the courses she teaches is public school methods, which focuses on supporting children’s mastery of the language expectations of the Common Core State Standards. In her clinical role at Longwood, she has collaborated with local school districts for service delivery. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in speech-language pathology at the University of Virginia. She is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia, and regularly volunteers for the profession. Dr. Power-deFur has served as a state education advocacy leader and as a member of numerous education-related committees at ASHA. She is the ASHA 2014–2016 vice president of standards and ethics in speech-language pathology. Additionally, she received The ASHA Leader Outstanding Service Award for her 2011 article on special education eligibility.

 

 

Ten Advances in Cochlear Implant Technology and Services

By: Jace Wolfe, PhD

Over the past several years, there have been numerous advances in cochlear implant technology and services. As recent as a decade ago, there were little to no technological solutions available to assist a cochlear implant candidate/recipient, who presented with severe to profound hearing loss, with speech recognition in difficult listening situations—understanding speech in noisy and reverberant settings, over the telephone or television, and when spoken from a distance. Today, cochlear implant manufacturers offer a wide variety of solutions to meet the needs of patients with hearing aids or cochlear implant processors who struggle to communicate. This article identifies ten ways in which cochlear implant technology and services have evolved and improved in the past few years.

10. Automatic scene classification: Hearing aids have featured acoustic scene classifiers for almost a decade. Through these systems, hearing aids classify an environment as one that possesses background noise, speech in quiet or in noise, music, wind, and so forth. Once the listening situation is classified into one of these environments, the hearing aid selects the appropriate form of signal processing that will theoretically optimize performance in the given environment. This technology can be quite valuable as many users are unlikely to manually switch to programs designed for specific, challenging situations. Furthermore, this system will likely be well-received by cochlear implant users as it makes its way to implant sound processors.

9. The development of new speech recognition materials that provide a more realistic assessment of how hearing aid and implant users perform in real-life listening situations: Cochlear implant technology has improved so much that many users score near 100% correct on sentence recognition tests in a quiet environment with a single talker who is male and speaks at a slow to moderate rate. Additionally, many hearing aid users who struggle substantially in realistic situations also often score too well on these tests to meet the indications for cochlear implant candidacy. This fact makes it difficult to distinguish between excellent implant and hearing aid users and good users who may benefit from additional services.

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Ground-Breaking Book on the Mind-Body Link in Singers

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers by Karen Leigh-Post

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers by Karen Leigh-Post

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers: Unleashing Optimal Performance provides a fundamental understanding of functional anatomy and cognitive neuroscience to guide singers and teachers of singing to unlocking the mystery of the mind-body link involved in the complex audio-motor behavior that is singing.

New theories and concepts, rooted in both the wisdom of masters in the field and current scientific research, are introduced from the unique perspective of the performer. Practical application exercises train the singer to work with, rather than against, the systems of singing to integrate the cognitive and conscious with the unconscious sensory and motor processes of our nervous system. Continue reading

Brand New Practical Resource for Voice Coaches

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education by Marina Gilman

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education by Marina Gilman

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education by Marina Gilman, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is an excellent resource for teachers of singing, voice coaches, and speech-language pathologists who work with singers and other voice professionals. It provides a new paradigm for working with singers in a way that allows for improved kinesthetic awareness needed to work with their body rather than against it. The text contains a series of lessons designed to train singing teachers, coaches, and voice therapists to recognize in their students the patterns of use and posture that interfere with respiration, phonation, and/or resonance. In addition, it provides tools for the teacher to guide the student to a level of self-awareness of habituated patterns along with strategies to implement change from the inside out. Continue reading

Invaluable Resources for Anyone Who Uses or Trains the Singing Voice

The Vocal Athlete

The Vocal Athlete by Wendy LeBorgne and Marci Rosenberg

The Vocal Athlete and the companion workbook The Vocal Athlete: Application and Technique for the Hybrid Singer are written and designed to bridge the gap between the art of contemporary commercial music (CCM) singing and the science behind voice production in this ever-growing popular vocal style. These books are a must have for the speech pathologist, singing voice specialist, and vocal pedagogue. Continue reading

New Release of Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology by Dr. Anthony DiLollo and Dr. Robert Neimeyer

For Immediate Release (San Diego, CA – June 6, 2014) – Counseling in the field of communication disorders is an essential dimension of professional practice, but just what it entails is often a bit of a mystery. Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology: Reconstructing Personal Narratives addresses this common concern of students and practitioners by illustrating how to integrate the concept of counseling into clinical practice. Replete with a variety of case studies, clinical guidelines, and actual transcripts of counseling interventions with clients and their families, as well as a practical “toolbox” of specific counseling methods, Dr. DiLollo and Dr. Neimeyer offer a comprehensive, novel, and empirically informed approach to counseling, applicable to a broad range of speech, language, swallowing, and hearing disorders. Continue reading

Just Published: New Literacy Book For Mutlicultural Issues

Language and Literacy Development: An Interdisciplinary Focus on English Learners with Communication disorders by Linda I. Rosa-Lugo, Florin Mihai, and Joyce Nutta, was just published!

This new book shows how the disciplines of speech-language pathology and English as a second language view and incorporate the roles of professionals in working with English Learners. Few resources have directly and intentionally addressed the merging of the two disciplines – speech-language pathology and English as a second language, in effecting change in language and literacy.

For more info on this and similar titles, click here!