Audiologists Join SLPs at Schools Conference Nearly 900 Professionals Share Ideas, Attend Sessions ASHA News
ASHA News  |   September 01, 2008
Audiologists Join SLPs at Schools Conference
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at
    Susan Boswell, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   September 01, 2008
Audiologists Join SLPs at Schools Conference
The ASHA Leader, September 2008, Vol. 13, 1-21. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.13132008.1
The ASHA Leader, September 2008, Vol. 13, 1-21. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.13132008.1
The theme “Power in Partnership” resonated throughout ASHA Schools 2008, which brought together two associations and nearly 900 school-based professionals on July 25–27 for an invigorating mix of audiology and speech-language pathology sessions.
The conference offered clinical hot topics, poster sessions, roundtables, exhibits, ASHA information tables, and a reception with a congressman—and allowed time with family, friends, and colleagues at Walt Disney World.
In the joint plenary to SLPs and Educational Audiology Association members, keynote speaker Richard Lavoie reminded clinicians of the most important partnership of all—the relationship among clinician, child, and parent. Lavoie drew on 35 years as a special education teacher, administrator, and consultant.
“I think the most important partnership we can build is with the parent,” Lavoie said. “Parenting a child with a disability is a difficult journey and one that no one asked for.”
Families, he said, often go from one crisis to another in dealing with a child’s disability, and school professionals must be skilled in working with people in crisis. Changes in society and a lack of supportive institutions—such as extended families, the church, and social service groups—mean that schools are expected to fill those roles, creating additional challenges for educators.
“We’re also the first generation to recognize that a child can look like everyone else but process language differently,” Lavoie said, adding that clinicians need to advocate for the adoption of universal design in education by emphasizing that special education techniques are effective with all students.
But for Lavoie, the most important lesson in education was found in a baseball. The ball had been signed by all of the members of the Boston Red Sox in 1967—the year of “the impossible dream” when the team played in the World Series.
Lavoie’s young son was handling the ball and wanted to use it to play catch. Lavoie explained that they couldn’t use that ball to play catch because it had writing on it. The 4-year-old child disappeared and returned smiling and holding the ball with all of the writing washed off.
Lavoie realized that his son, now a sportswriter, was trying to do him a favor.
“The most important relationship is one of adult and child, and 90% of our challenges with children can be solved by looking at the world from their eyes,” he said.
Cross-Disciplinary Topics
Friday’s sessions were cross-disciplinary, and participants delved into genetic connections among communication disorders, auditory-linguistic disorders, cultural competence, motivation, and classroom acoustics (for a feature article by a presenter, see Students and Soundwaves: Five Strategies to Promote Good Classroom Acoustics).
In “Cochlear Implant Essentials,” presenter Mary Koch emphasized the importance of collaboration. “We need all of these professionals—audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and teachers of the deaf—for children with hearing loss.”
Koch, a teacher of the deaf who has more than 20 years of experience with children with cochlear implants (CIs), noted the tremendous increase in the number of children with CIs and the need for professional knowledge. Almost all participants had worked with a child with a cochlear implant and many were expecting to work with a child with a CI in the new school year. In addition several were serving a child with bilateral CIs.
Koch noted that children with CIs often “are not exclusively oral or visual, and we need to look at how they process language to determine how language should be presented.” She reviewed components of learning to listen with the CI, offering strategies for developing auditory attention, auditory memory, perception/production, and sound-object association as well as classroom activities to target these skills.
Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists, addressed the topic of students’ challenging behaviors. He encouraged clinicians to look beyond the behavior and analyze contributing factors including the environment, antecedents to the behavior, and motivation and rewards for the behavior. Feinberg proposed a school-wide, response-to-intervention model that uses positive behavior supports with all students. “We can teach kids math and sciences—and we can teach kids behaviors,” he said.
In “Managing Students With Dysphagia in School Settings,” Rita Bailey, an assistant professor at Illinois State University, presented films that took participants through normal sequence of oral-motor development for feeding and along the length of a swallow so that participants could classify the etiology of feeding problems. She also provided checklists and assessment tools to identify developmental aspects of feeding, the level of dysfunction, food preferences, and behavioral issues.
In her practice Bailey also analyzes oral-motor sensory reactions, and prior to feeding she provides oral-motor treatment to increase sensory awareness, control, and coordination with exercises that provide positive oral stimulation.
“When asked for their goals, parents frequently say they want to feed their child a normal diet,” Bailey said. “We use what we know about normal development to make feeding and swallowing reflexive, then voluntary.” She also offers parents an e-newsletter on feeding issues and organizes a potluck dinner as a low-stress venue for family training.
On Sunday Henriette Langdon, professor at San Jose State University, held an interactive session that explored the challenges of collaborating with interpreters and translators by following the “BID” (briefing-interaction-debriefing) procedure, which includes briefing the interpreter for the interaction, working collaboratively during the interaction, and then debriefing and reviewing each session or meeting.
Langdon noted that the family’s culture, as well as language, should be considered. “Special education is not as common in other countries, so it is a difference in culture,” she noted, adding that it is the SLP’s responsibility to clarify the message for the interpreter.
Two roundtable sessions included expert facilitators on 68 topics, and 46 posters displayed research on diverse topics such as mentoring programs for new SLPs, response-to-intervention models for articulation, video modeling for functional communication, Navajo people and culture, and augmentative and alternative communication service delivery and training.
Politics in Action
U.S. Congressman Ric Keller from Florida’s eighth district was the guest at a reception hosted by the ASHA Political Action Committee. Keller, who serves on the House Education and Labor Committee, supported education initiatives during this election year.
“I’ll work with whoever wins to see that every child gets a first-class education,” he said. In his efforts to secure reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Keller said, “The number-one complaint about IDEA was excessive paperwork. We’ve got to get a handle on that.”
Later, 155 participants enjoyed a spectacular evening of desserts and a dramatic display of Disney fireworks at a benefit reception sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, which raises funds for scholarship and research programs.
Partnerships That Enhance Success
In closing the conference, ASHA President-Elect Sue Hale, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, explored some of the most influential partnerships that can make a career successful and fulfilling—relationships with colleagues, students, supervisees, and administrators. She explored positive and negative partnerships in job settings, the importance of teamwork, changes in working relationships, and the value of friends in the workplace to reduce stress and burnout.
Sometimes rivalries are a long-term reality in the workplace, she said. “If we concentrate only on the negative aspects, we may miss the value of these relationships,” Hale said, noting that clinicians may actually be challenged to become better at what they do because of the rivalry, and learn to agree to disagree. “Just because it doesn’t work out with one person doesn’t mean you can’t have a good partnership with someone else,” she said.
In short-term positive relationships, people come together to achieve a purpose and then disband, Hale said, and she encouraged participants to become involved in these types of partnerships at the state and national level to effect change.
Short-term negative relationships may be necessary in the workplace, and there is always the possibility for a positive outcome. Hale recalled a former boss with whom she had a difficult relationship. For two years she struggled to go into work each day.
The negative relationship provided her with the impetus to find a trustworthy friend and mentor. “I told her how unfair, arrogant, and obnoxious he was,” Hale confided. Without saying a word, the friend’s demeanor changed subtly and Hale realized the boss was nearby, “…and I would marry him again,” she said, accompanied by laughter from the audience.
Long-term relationships with colleagues can nurture office friendships that make work a better place. “There is redemption and power in partnerships. We touch and transform lives, but these miracles take a toll,” Hale said. “If we are to continue these miracles, we need partnerships.”
Watch The ASHA Leader and the ASHA Web site for details on Schools 2009, which will be held in Kansas City, Mo., on July 17–19, 2009.
EAA Hosts Pre-Conference Workshop

One exciting addition to ASHA Schools 2008 was the participation of the Educational Audiology Association (EAA), which collaborated with ASHA to provide topics and speakers of interest to both school-based audiologists and SLPs.

The day before the conference, the EAA hosted a pre-conference workshop that featured two presenters. Sarah McKay of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia presented on “Minimal and Unilateral Hearing Loss—Old and New Strategies for Success.” She described the classroom challenges faced by students with minimal or unilateral hearing loss and offered recommendations to improve service to these students.

In “Working Together Makes Everyone a Winner,” Cindy McCormick Richburg reviewed recent research highlighting the importance of collaboration among educational audiologists, SLPs, and other school-based professionals who work with children with hearing loss. Phonak presented concurrent sessions, “Fitting Cochlear Implants with FM Systems” and “Pediatric Hearing Aid Verification: DSL v5.”

“The joint conference is a wonderful collaboration,” said Nancy Madison, EAA president-elect. “EAA is developing relationships with related professional organizations, and our first emphasis was connecting with ASHA through this conference. We learned a lot and We’re going to try this again at our next conference in two years.”

Educational audiologists enjoyed the small-group gathering provided by the EAA workshop and the larger ASHA conference, noted Charlean Raymond, EAA director-at-large.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting people and the opportunity to talk with others and share information. I think people have been thankful for the opportunity to attend both conferences.”

Anne Oyler, associate director, audiology professional practices

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September 2008
Volume 13, Issue 13