Listening to Your Inner Voice As a speech-language pathologist, I use my clinical skills to make decisions and diagnoses every day for my students. I take a detailed case history and gather existing data when determining if and what services are needed. I rely on my training daily to make ethical decisions to help students ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   May 01, 2011
Listening to Your Inner Voice
Author Notes
  • Terri Henderson-Fields, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist for the Tulsa Public School District. She can be reached at FieldTe@tulsaschools.org.
    Terri Henderson-Fields, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist for the Tulsa Public School District. She can be reached at FieldTe@tulsaschools.org.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   May 01, 2011
Listening to Your Inner Voice
The ASHA Leader, May 2011, Vol. 16, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.16052011.39
The ASHA Leader, May 2011, Vol. 16, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.16052011.39
As a speech-language pathologist, I use my clinical skills to make decisions and diagnoses every day for my students. I take a detailed case history and gather existing data when determining if and what services are needed. I rely on my training daily to make ethical decisions to help students achieve potentials.
Terry Henderson-Fields, right, with her daughter Cheyanne.
I never imagined that these skills would be needed for my own child. My daughter, Cheyanne, was born with respiratory issues that required jet ventilation and caused acute ear infections. However, after receiving tubes at age 2, Cheyanne developed relatively normally and received speech-language services to address articulation delays caused by the hearing loss. But in 2008, Cheyanne began to tell me that words sounded “choppy.” This was my first clinical red flag. We took Cheyanne for a hearing evaluation, which showed some loss compared to previous audiograms but nothing significant.
In ninth grade, she began taking Spanish. Cheyanne is a 4.0 student with a high IQ, and when she brought home a “C,” I knew something was wrong. She could read and write Spanish fluently but couldn’t speak or understand it auditorially. I suspected a problem with auditory processing, but knew it should have shown up much earlier in her academics and behavior. We needed to begin working immediately with our ENT and audiologist. The ENT ruled out structural problems and referred us to audiologist Nakiea Strecker, who conducted auditory processing testing. She indicated that it was not APD, but added that the symptoms reminded her of something she had seen only once in her career. She recommended the ECohG test to look for hydrops.
Cheyanne was diagnosed with severe bilaterial endolymphatic hydrops (EH) with a mild sensorineural hearing loss. We were stunned as we learned how rare this disorder is in children. Amplification has changed Cheyanne’s life. Her hearing aids have three settings: good day, severe day, and music. Cheyanne is a gifted cellist, and she must be able to hear to play her instrument. She also has an FM system that allows her to use her cell phone and iPod with her hearing aids. We monitor her salt and caffeine intake to help reduce the cerebral spinal fluid retention in her ears, which causes the hearing loss to fluctuate. Cheyanne’s teachers give her preferential seating, never turn their backs to her, give her written lesson plans when possible, use closed-captioning on all videos, and control the noise in the classroom.
Cheyanne is concurrently enrolled in college classes and was just interviewed by Harvard! Our family is learning sign language as Cheyanne uses it to communicate in noisy environments, which overwhelm her hearing aids. I do not recall learning about ECohG evaluations or endolymphatic hydrops as a speech-language pathology student. But my training did teach me to listen to my students and clients and their symptoms, and to be persistent in the pursuit of the right treatment, which helped me seek out the appropriate professionals who helped my child.
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May 2011
Volume 16, Issue 5