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What Exactly is ASHA?

As a parent, do you ever wonder what all those letters mean after your therapist’s name? To a speech-language pathologist, these letters represent years and years of hard work and ultimately they confirm certification to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). blog-asha-main-landscape

So, what exactly is ASHA?

ASHA is the national organization and governing body for speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech/language/hearing scientists. In 1926, ASHA became the first organization to initiate the development of national standards for these two professions. Today, ASHA represents more than 181,000+ professionals; 148,105 of which are certified speech-language pathologists (SLP’s), 31,964 of which are certified audiologists and 931 of which hold dual certification as both audiologists and SLPs. These two rewarding professions have shown immense growth over the years and continue to require a governing body to further detail professional standards.

ASHA has been certifying both speech-language pathologists and audiologists since 1952. These standards are established by audiologists and speech-language pathologists, respectively, who are members of ASHA’s Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC). ASHA’s certification standards are based on assessment of academic knowledge, professional and clinical skills by professors, employers and leaders in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. This certification requires graduate level coursework and clinical practicum within a variety of settings and populations.

These populations span the lifetime and can include:

  • Early Childhood
  • School-Aged Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Geriatrics/Elderly

Clinical Practicum explores various settings for an SLP to work including:

  • Schools
  • Private clinics
  • Outpatient Facilities
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Hospitals

In addition, ASHA collaborates with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in developing national examinations for both professions. Both speech-language pathologists and audiologists must obtain a passing score on the Praxis examination.

Now, back to the letters after your child’s therapist’s name. Being “certified” from ASHA means holding a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). This is a nationally recognized professional credential that represents a level of excellence in the field of Audiology (CCC-A) or Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). Individuals who have achieved the CCC-ASHA certification have voluntarily met academic and professional standards, typically going beyond the minimum requirements for state licensure. In order to maintain their knowledge, skills and expertise to provide high quality clinical service, individuals who are certified with ASHA are required to engage in ongoing professional development courses.

North Shore Pediatric Therapy requires all speech-language pathologists to hold and maintain ASHA’s CCC Certification. This is a crucial aspect of ensuring that all our therapists continue to uphold high standards of clinical service to the clients we serve.

As an organization, ASHA provides an abundant amount of resources. Each year, ASHA holds a nationwide convention and invites professionals to come, attend lectures, network and earn CEU course hours. In addition, the ASHA website contains insightful resources, such as the Practice Portal. This online resource offers one-stop access to guide evidence-based decision-making on a variety of both clinical and professional issues. This resource contains direct research articles and resources on a variety of clinical topics and disorders, as well as professional practice issues.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-A-Speech-Pathologist

Administering Effective Healthcare in ASHA

I attended a graduate school program that took great pride in a multi-disciplinary approach. They ASHAheavily emphasized the importance of working together to obtain the most accurate diagnosis within a medical model that was centered on patient wellness and experience. “It’s the wave of the future!” they said, “Funding in healthcare will be directly related to a patient outcome!”

When I started working at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, I couldn’t believe that the ‘wave of the future’ concept (simply translated to: increased and improved communication between patients and health care providers) was something that had been fundamental to this practice for so many years! They were so ahead of their time because they thought about how they wanted their family, friends, and children to be treated within a healthcare setting. It’s something that I find value in everyday and would like to share more information about in the upcoming paragraphs. *Of note, this blog post is in response to information derived from an article found in The ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Leader (a monthly publication sent to licensed speech-language pathologists) titled What Does the Patient Want? by Sarah W. Blackstone.

This blog post seeks to explain the ways in which the model of care NSPT has implemented for so many years is compliant with the recent changes in health care laws, policies, and regulations for patient-centered, communication-supportive care.

  • Why has the government recently realized this as a need in healthcare? Because, “Successful patient-provider communication correlates positively with patient safety, patient satisfaction, positive health outcomes, adherence to recommended treatment, self-management of disease and lower costs.”At NSPT, we have been working this way since day 1! We’re familiar with the positives of this model and know how to set up the challenges for success. We use these skills to impact our patients and improve our practice every day!
    • NSPT EXAMPLE: A colleague of mine had a client with a speech impediment and an upcoming school play. She reached out to the girl’s teacher (with the permission of her mother of course!) and they worked together to obtain a passage that had fewer of the sounds that were difficult for her. After the performance, all 3 parties rated the experience to review how the collaboration worked for everyone!
  • Participation in interprofessional rounds to generate relevant concerns and questions for our patients!
    • NSPT Example: I am a speech-language pathologist that works with physical therapists, occupational therapists, behavior therapists, social workers, and family child advocates. Some of our more involved kiddos see more than one therapist to address multiple areas of concern. This is where “rounding” is particularly helpful. It is the process of checking in and making sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the plan of care. Rounds are also a place to problem solve new challenges and talk about a client’s recent progress!

These are only a few of the ways that NSPT has already incorporated novel health care concepts into the foundation of what we do to convey our appreciation for the wonderful families we work with!

Resources:

Blackstone, S. W. (2016, March). What Does the Patient Want?. The ASHA Leader, 38-44.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-A-Speech-Pathologist

speech therapy: a career

A Student’s Guide: How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

As defined by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) a speech-language pathologist (SLP) works “to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.” The career of an SLP is very wide-ranging, yet overwhelmingly rewarding, as a person can work in a variety of different work settings and with varying populations of clients. For example, a SLP could work in clinics, schools, hospitals, or nursing homes, targeting skills in receptive, expressive, and pragmatic language, cognition, articulation and phonology, fluency, voice, feeding and swallowing.

The following are key points in the pathway of becoming a speech-language pathologist, starting at the undergraduate level to the Certificate of Clinical Competence.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: A completed bachelor’s degree is necessary in order to be accepted into anSpeech Therapy: A Career accredited speech-language pathology master’s program. A student can complete their bachelor’s degree in any area, although majors in communication sciences and disorders or a related field would be ideal. It is smart to check the pre-requisites of graduate programs to ensure all necessary coursework is completed.
  1. Master’s Degree: It is required to obtain a master’s degree from an accredited Speech Language and Hearing Science master’s program. There are over 300 graduate programs that have been accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). Use EdFind, ASHA’s online directory of undergraduate and graduate programs for speech-language pathology and audiology, to search for the graduate program that best fits you.

Typically, graduate programs take two years to complete. However, depending on the program and a student’s undergraduate degree, a graduate program could span the course of 3 years. It is also an option for a student to continue past their master’s degree and obtain a doctoral degree.

  1. Supervised Clinical Experience: Along with educational requirements, there are clinical hours that must be met before graduation from a master’s program. It is required that students complete 400 hours of supervised clinical experience (25 hours of clinical observation and 375 hours of direct client treatment).
  1. Clinical Fellowship (CF): Once a student has obtained their graduate degree, it is now time for them to enter into their clinical fellowship, which is meant to be a transition period between being a student to an independent therapy provider. During this time the clinical fellow has the support and supervision of their Clinical Fellowship Mentor. To find a CF position, search for job positions accepting CF-SLPs. A CF can be completed in 36 weeks if working full-time (35 hours per week). Part-time work can also be used to complete a CF, as long as the CF-SLP works more than 5 hours per week.
  1. Praxis Exam: The Praxis Exam is a requirement in order to receive your ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology. It is also necessary to be able to obtain a state professional licensure and state teacher credential. Typically, the Praxis Exam is taken during the last semester of your graduate program or shortly after graduation.
  1. Certificate of Clinical Competence: Once the previous requirements (as noted above) have been met, an individual can obtain a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). The credentials of CCC-SLP represent that individual has met certain academic and clinical skills to be competent in independently providing speech and language services.
  1. State License: Additionally, each state has varying licensure requirements. Majority of states require a state license in order to provide therapy. These requirements can be checked at ASHA.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

 

Does pacifier use cause speech and language issues?

Does Sucking on a Pacifier Harm Speech Development?

Does using a pacifier harm speech and language development?Does sucking a pacifier harm speech development?

There is not a clear-cut answer to this question. While the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association takes the position that overuse of pacifiers can negatively impact speech development, results of studies investigating this question have yielded mixed results when comparing the speech skills of pacifier users versus non-pacifier users.

What does the research say?

Pacifier use has been associated with conditions that are considered risk factors for speech and language issues:

  • Ear infections: Prolonged and frequent pacifier use appears to be a risk factor in the development of Otitis Media. Repeated middle ear infections can increase the risk of hearing loss – and even cause temporary conductive hearing loss. Children with hearing loss have more difficulty learning speech and language.
  • Dental problems: Malocclusion (misaligned or malpositioned jaw/teeth) is associated with prolonged pacifier use. Differences in dental structures can lead to distortions during the articulation of speech sounds.

However, research directly investigating the articulation (speech production) of pacifier users versus non-pacifier users has yielded mixed results:

  • One study found no significant differences between the speech articulation of children who had no or minimal history of pacifier use, children who had a history of pacifier use for up to 15 months, and children who had a history of pacifier use that ranged from 18-55 months (Shotts, McDaniel, & Neeley, 2008).
  • Results from another study suggested that prolonged sucking outside of breastfeeding may negatively impact speech. More specifically, investigators found that children who used a pacifier or sucked their fingers for 3 years or more were three times more likely to develop a speech disorder (Barbosa et. al., 2009).

What do the professionals think about pacifier use?

Many speech-language pathologists recommend stopping pacifier use at approximately 1 year of age. At this age, important developments in your child’s speech and language learning are occurring rapidly; therefore, maximizing your child’s opportunities to babble and speak optimizes his or her ability to develop speech and language skills. A pacifier may decrease the likelihood of your child babbling or speaking and, if he or she attempts to babble while sucking a pacifier, your child’s speech will be distorted. Some speech-language pathologists also assert that pacifiers impede normal development of tongue and lip muscles and movements due to the unnatural position imposed on these structures by the presence of the pacifier.

What should I do?

As a parent, it is important to consider the specific needs of your child when deciding whether, when, or how long to allow pacifier use. There are some possible benefits to pacifier use, including protection against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and pain prevention and management for infants. Additionally, no research has yet indicated that limited pacifier use negatively impacts speech development. Therefore, if you decide to allow your child to suck a pacifier, it is a good idea to keep the following guidelines in mind*:

  • Try to limit your baby’s pacifier use to nap-time or sleep only.
  • Depending on the specific needs of your child, wean him or her from the pacifier after 6 months (when risk of SIDS drops) and before 18 months (when speech and language development is occurring rapidly).
  • Instead of offering your child his or her pacifier during moments of boredom or increased emotion, find new ways to assist in self-directed entertainment or self-soothing; for example, redirect your child to a fun activity, play music, read a book, or offer a preferred toy.
  • Restrict use if your child has a history of recurrent otitis media (middle ear infections)
  • Use an appropriately sized pacifier. (Pacifiers are sized based on your baby’s age.)
  • Do not allow children to share pacifiers.
  • Wash pacifiers in soap and water to keep them clean between uses.
  • Use a pacifier with ventilation holes to let air in.
  • Do not sweeten a pacifier, as it can damage your baby’s teeth.

*Adapted from http://www.webmd.com/

All in all, it is each parent’s personal decision whether or not to allow pacifier use. If used appropriately, pacifiers are not likely to impede speech and language development. However, if pacifiers are overused (e.g., child sucks on pacifier too much) or misused (e.g., not appropriately cleaned or sized), they can increase your child’s risk of speech and language difficulties.




References:

  • Barbosa, C., Vasquez, S., Parada, M. A., Gonzalez, J. C., Jackson, C., Yanex, N. D., Gelave, B.,
  • Fitzpatrick, A. L. (2009). The relationship of bottle feeding and other sucking behaviors
  • with speech disorder in Patagonian preschoolers. BMC Pediatrics, 9(66).
  • Pizolato, R. A., Fernandes, F. S. de F., & Gaviao, M. B. D. (2011). Speech evaluation in children with temporomandibular disorders. Journal of Applied Oral Science, 19(5), 493-499.
  • Shotts, L. L., McDaniel, D. M., & Neeley, R. A. (2008). The Impact of Prolonged Pacifier Use
  • on Speech Articulation: A Preliminary Investigation. Contemporary Issues in
  • Communication Science and Disorders, 35(Spring), 72-75.

 

how early is too early for a speech language evaluation

How Young is Too Young for a Speech Language Evaluation?

If you have concerns about your baby’s ability to listen or communicate, it is never too early for her to be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist.

The first three years of your baby’s life is a critical period for learning language. Rapid growth and change in your baby’s brain makes learning easiest and most efficient during these years. Your baby is listening to you speak, watching you gesture and emote, and learning pre-verbal communication skills that lay the foundation for future speech and language development. Therefore, ensuring that your baby’s development is on-track from the start is very important.

How do I know if my baby needs to be evaluated for a speech or language concern?

  1. Your baby is not meeting speech and language developmental milestones on time:how early is too early for a speech language evaluation

Long before your baby says her first words, she is listening and communicating in a variety of ways:

  • By 3 months, she quiets or smiles when you talk to her and cries differently to express different needs
  • By 6 months, she responds to changes in the tone of your voice, babbles with many different sounds, and vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • By 1 year, she makes gestures (e.g., waves) to communicate, imitates speech sounds, and says one or two words

These skills, along with other speech and language milestones, generally follow a similar sequence of development in typically developing children. And, though there is variation across all children, these milestones are usually expected at particular ages. The predictability of your baby’s language development allows speech-language pathologists to evaluate your baby’s skills long before she starts saying her first words. Looking at milestone charts and comparing them to your baby’s skills will give you hints about whether your baby might be on track or delayed.

  1. Your baby displays one or more of the following “red flags” for communication disorders*:
  • Does not babble by 9 months
  • Does not say first words by 15 months
  • Does not respond to communication appropriately
  • Does not make eye contact
  • Sudden loss of skills or slowing of development
  • Does not show interest in communication

*Adapted from www.asha.org. Please see web site for more information.

  1. Your baby has hearing problems or a previously diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorder:
  • Hearing Problems: 92% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents. The ability to hear is essential to your child’s language development, as decreased linguistic input may negatively impact language. Furthermore, otitis media (middle ear infection) is common in children ages birth to 3. It may be harder for children to hear and understand language if sound is dampened by fluid in the middle ear. Therefore, children with frequent ear infections should have their hearing tested to ensure full access to their linguistic environment.
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorder: Neurodevelopmental disorders are disabilities associated with the functioning of the nervous system and brain. Children with these disorders are at higher risk of having speech and language problems.

 

What Can I do if I see One of These Red Flags?

If your baby is not meeting developmental milestones, displays any “red flags,” or has hearing difficulties or a neurodevelopmental disorder, you can take action by finding a speech-language pathologist in your area and scheduling an evaluation. Click here more information about how to select a speech-language pathologist, as well as what happens during a speech-language evaluation.






Early Warning Signs for Communication Disorders

Do any of these lines sound familiar when discussing your toddler’s communication?

“He’s not talking much yet, but when is he supposed to?”

“I’m not sure he understands everything I say….”

“He kind of has his own language. I mean I can understand him, but others have a hard time, is that typical?”

As a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, these are some of the most common concerns and questions I hear from new families. Language acquisition and development is a complicated process, for both you and your child. How are you to know what’s typical and what’s not? When are those first words supposed to come? When is he supposed to follow directions? Read more