2015 AG Bell Symposium Sessions

Our understanding of the science behind spoken language development has changed dramatically in the last decade. As a result of universal newborn hearing screening, advancements in hearing technologies and access to inclusive education, children with hearing loss and their families have unprecedented opportunities to achieve the language, communication and educational goals they set. In order to best support children with hearing loss and their families, incorporating the latest scientific research related to brain development and neuroscience should be a top priority for LSL professionals. Therefore, the focus of the 2015 AG Bell Listening and Spoken Language Symposium will be the exploration of the developments in brain science that help us understand how infants, toddlers and children learn to understand and express spoken language, and then apply this knowledge to enhance intervention techniques and practices serving children using hearing technology.

Session Topics

  • Tracking Child Outcomes for Specialized Programs: The LSL Data Repository
  • Social Inclusion/Theory  of Mind: More than Words and Sounds?
  • Application  of LENA Data in Early Intervention: The COMPASS Project
  • Itinerants Maximizing Access for Brain Functioning in Inclusive Classrooms
  • Case Study in Unlocking  the Brain: Hearing Technology + AVT + Augmentative Communication
  • Outcomes of an Enrichment Program Supporting Literacy Development
  • Children with ABIs in the Classroom: What Can We Expect?
  • Building Resilience and Social Skills in Children with Hearing Loss 

Friday, July 10, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Friday, July 10, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Friday, July 10, 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 11, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Friday, July 10, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

AG Bell/LLC Panel Discussion
Teresa H. Caraway, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT 

Virtual or In-person Early Intervention and Quality of Life
Cheryl Broekelmann, M.A., LSLS Cert. AVEd
Jeanne Flowers, MSDE, M.S., CF-SLP, CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd

Each year, approximately 12,000 babies are born deaf or hard of hearing. Almost one third of these children do not receive follow-up intervention services despite evidence that early intervention leads to superior outcomes for children with hearing loss. This session will describe the results of a survey that was conducted to understand how early intervention done either virtually or in person impacts the quality of life for the family with a child who is deaf or hard of hearing. The survey had two parts: Part A established baseline measures before start of early intervention programs and Part B provided a snapshot of the family’s current status and the progress to date. After presenting the survey results, the presentation will continue with incorporating the survey results with adult learning theory and coaching utilizing a triadic model— parent/ caregiver, specialist and child—as a process to guide listening and spoken language services in early intervention either conducted through the internet or in person. 

Building Resilience and Social Skills in Children with Hearing Loss
Elise Alexander

Age-appropriate speech and language outcomes as well as exceptional use of hearing technology are not the only outcomes desired for children with hearing loss in order to achieve their full potential in today’s world. Social competency and feelings of self-worth and belonging are also necessary components. In response to a perceived need, Hear and Say developed a unique continuum of comprehensive social skills programs for children with hearing loss from infants through to young adults, including: Listen Little Stars for infants and their parents; Little Explorers Auditory-Verbal Program (LEAP) for families and their children aged 18 months to 4 years; LAUNCH Pad for children in the year before formal schooling ; ROCKET for children in their first year of formal schooling; COMET for children aged 8-10 years; STAR for children aged 11-13 years; and Young Adults Program for late teens and young adults.  This session will demonstrate aspects of each program through video and discussion. These programs aim to provide a safe environment for children and their families to explore and share feelings and emotions, increase parent and peer support, develop clear and effective communication skills and develop teamwork and trust. Through these programs, Hear and Say strives to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and their families. 

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Friday, July 10, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Application of LENA Data in Early Intervention: The COMPASS Project
Theresa Harp, M.S., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT
Kayley Cassidy Mayer, M.A.T., TOD 

Research has clearly demonstrated the critical neurologic development that occurs in babies’ brains between birth and 3 years. By the first year of life, the brain has developed to 70% of its capacity. By age 3, neuronal development jumps to 80%. Therapists must capitalize upon this window in order to maximize listening and spoken language skills. This presentation will examine the use of Language Environmental Analysis (LENA) technology with families who wish to promote the development of listening and spoken language in their children with hearing loss. LENA tracks the number of adult words, child vocalizations, conversational turns and the acoustic environment. Professionals must tailor their intervention to practically apply this data when working with caregivers to further the language skills of children. This session will present the COMPASS Project—Creating Outcomes to Maximize Practical Application of Skills and Strategies— for children with hearing loss and their families, which combined the LENA with research-based strategies for fostering language acquisition for children with hearing loss. Overall, results indicated that the use of the LENA paired with research-based language strategies led to improvements in adult word count, child vocalizations, conversational turns and auditory environment. This presentation will examine the strategies and supporting materials used with families, the methods in which families were coached on the strategies, and the results recorded with the LENA device.

Case Study in Unlocking the Brain: Hearing Technology + AVT + Augmentative Communication
Becky Clem, M.A., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT 

About 20-25% of children in the cochlear implant program of the Cook Children's Medical Center have moderate to severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy, congenital conditions and cortical blindness, among others. This session centers around a case study of a girl, who is now aged 3 years, 6 months, with intractable epilepsy, cerebral palsy, cortical blindness, hydrocephalus, severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, open  neural tube defect, and other neurological image findings.  The case study presentation will include video clips of audiological testing, auditory-based intervention sessions, and augmentative communication sessions, as well as an interview with the girl’s family. Collaboration amongst numerous providers in this case was crucial, but was centered on the family to help this child access her world and communicate effectively. Key points will include how the Cook Children's Medical Center team collaborated to determine the child’s auditory behaviors during the hearing aid trial, communicative intent, auditory memory, timing and rationale for referral to augmentative communication for expressive language, and carry-over to home and community.

Itinerants Maximizing Access for Brain Functioning in Inclusive Classrooms
Lisa Stewart
Jane Ledingham, M.E.D., CCC-SLP, LSLS-Cert. AVT

When a family considers options for their child’s education, they often follow district protocol. Unfortunately, most districts are not knowledgeable regarding the unique nuances in educating students with hearing loss. The typical statement—“Johnny is fine, he understand everything”—shows that hearing loss is the ultimate invisible disability and families need to be educated and empowered to ask for what their child is entitled to—access to communication.  This session will discuss considerations that need to be made in the inclusive classroom such as acoustics, distance, background noise, and the benefits of preferential seating.  Teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing (TOD) are often asked to justify services, especially when a student with hearing loss is doing well. One answer to that is providing evidence through an informal classroom listening assessment (ICLA). This session will further demonstrate how coaching the regular education teacher and collaborating in order to provide meaningful push in and pull out services benefits the student as well as the teacher. Regular education teachers who benefit from working collaboratively with a TOD will demonstrate this through video testimony. The session will also provide strategies to coach district speech-language pathologists to focus on training their students’ brains to listen and process language rather than on articulation errors.

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Friday, July 10, 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Children with ABIs in the Classroom:  What Can We Expect?
Jill Muhs, M.S.Ed. 

Professionals are no longer solely working with peripheral systems to stimulate the auditory cortex—instead they are tapping directly into the brainstem.  The Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI), and the increasing number of centers providing the surgery, brings yet another element to consider when teaching groups of heterogeneous learners.  This session will focus on preschoolers with ABIs in listening and spoken language classrooms.  The presenters will report on the diverse demographics and varied learning needs of 10 preschoolers who participated in The John Tracy Clinic’s programs.  Participants will interact in small groups comparing lessons learned from other hearing technology advances and how those experiences can structure expectations for children with ABIs.  The session will present current device research and studies concerning these children as learners along with classroom strategies and videos of classroom interactions.  Language Environmental Analysis (LENA) data will be presented on two of the preschool participants.  Finally, presenters and attendees will explore collaborative models for parents and listening and spoken language professionals to use together to maximize their efforts and achieve optimum outcomes for children with ABIs.

Social Inclusion /Theory of Mind: More than Words and Sounds?
Anne Fulcher, Ph.D., LSLS Cert. AVT
Aleisha Davis, MPhil, MSLP, LSLS Cert. AVT 

An increasing number of children with all levels of hearing loss are demonstrating significant benefits— such as age appropriate speech, language and vocabulary skills—from access to sound from early infancy when the brain has maximal plasticity. However, a large number of these children graduate from early intervention programs with underlying social and emotional difficulties that are not adequately captured by traditional assessments. This session will present on The Shepherd Centre’s efforts to address these concerns in Australia. Attendees will look at studies describing social inclusion outcomes for children with hearing loss aged 4-5 years from Listening and Spoken Language First Voice Centres across Australia. Data from these studies have been used to inform intervention and to promote innovative clinical practices such as development and use of mental state language. The presentation will begin by defining Theory of Mind (ToM) and looking at its importance in social and emotional development, use lessons from other populations (i.e., autism spectrum disorder, other cultures), and explore implications of poor development of ToM. Participants will examine possible contributory factors for the development of ToM in children with hearing loss such as the ability to overhear, lack of sufficient tonal access, and the impact of diagnosis and specific intervention styles.

Tracking Child Outcomes for Specialized Programs: The LSL Data Repository
Tamala S. Bradham, Ph.D., CCC-A
Barbara F. Hecht, Ph.D. 

In order to best support children with hearing loss and their families, OPTION Schools, Inc.—an international, non-profit organization comprised of listening and spoken language programs and schools for children who are deaf or hard of hearing—began an ambitious data collection initiative in 2010, the LSL-DR project. Forty-eight OPTION programs in 24 U.S. states and four programs in three other countries began a data collection project designed to measure and evaluate longitudinal progress and outcomes of children enrolled in listening and spoken language educational programs.  In the era of “Big Data” LSL-DR now contains demographic and outcome data from more than 4,500 individual children.  This session will describe the process of creating and maintaining a database designed to aggregate de-identifiable data on demographics, program characteristics, hearing, speech, language and academic measures on norm- and criterion-referenced tests across the time span a child is enrolled in these highly specialized programs.  Participants will have the opportunity to explore 2014 demographic and outcome data, pose research questions to the database in real time, and observe the use of advanced statistical models for analyzing diverse data sets.

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Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Tracking Listening Skills from 0-6 Years: Changing Progress, Changing Outcomes
Anne Fulcher, Ph.D., LSLS Cert. AVT
Aleisha Davis, MPhil, MSLP, LSLS Cert. AVT 

In an ever-changing landscape of evidence and an ever-increasing mass of information regarding best practices, The Shepherd Centre in Australia has been recording the progress of over 150 children with hearing loss in early intervention focusing on their development of listening, morphological, pragmatic and pre-literacy skills. This session will present clinical-based research focused on looking at outcomes beyond standardized speech and language scores, knowing that there is a lot more that makes up spoken language acquisition than factors that have been tracked so far. Specifically, the session will examine the traditional tools used to track progress; the need to develop additional tools that could add richness to the traditional standardized assessment data; the correlation between auditory skill development and receptive/expressive language skills; the correlation between listening skill development and morphological, pre-literacy and pragmatic skills development; the effects of current post-amplification and early intervention practices on outcomes; and more.

Working with Children with Single-sided Deafness
Emma Rushbrooke, B.A., DipAud., MAudSA., LSLS Cert AVT
Jackie Brown, B.Ed., LSLS Cert. AVT 

Until quite recently, children with unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness (SSD) were not routinely offered amplification in Australia. However, increased awareness of the impacts of this type of hearing loss have resulted in changes to clinical practice with amplification now being recommended more consistently, and many families exploring this option, including implantable hearing solutions. Hear and Say provides listening and spoken language services and programs for children with hearing loss in Brisbane, Australia. A number of children with SSD in the Hear and Say programs have received a cochlear implant or bone conduction devices. This session will share Hear and Say’s clinical experiences with this population to date through an overview of the literature, clinical observations, case studies (including video footage), standardized speech and language assessment results, audiological assessment results, anecdotal evidence, and parental insights.

Teletherapy, It Really Works! Strategies and Outcomes
Betsy Moog Brooks, M.S., CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd

The Moog Center for Deaf Education engaged in a pilot project designed to improve its Family Teleschool program for children ages 0-3 and their families. Through lecture, video and discussion, this session will focus on describing that project and providing participants with strategies and techniques for implementing effective teletherapy sessions, along with outcome data to support those strategies. The project collected vocabulary and language data on all 10 participants at the beginning and end of the project using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Developmental Inventory Form, the Preschool Language Scales, and the Scale of Parental Involvement and Self-Efficacy. 

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Saturday, July 11, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Facilitating Optimal Family Engagement
Darcy L. Stowe, M.S., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT
Lindsay Hanna, M.S., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT 

Many times, despite listening and spoken language professionals’ best efforts, families are non-compliant with hearing technology use and/or recommendations. This session will focus on current research and articles in the field and how Hearts for Hearing, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has used this information to drive change in communicating the sense of urgency and timing to families of children with hearing loss. Participants will dive into the specifics of conclusions from relevant research in the field and then explore practical applications based on Hearts for Hearing’s experience in the realms of protocols and procedures as well as information dissemination to parents and families.  Participants will have the opportunity to learn from specific examples of implementation at Hearts for Hearing, including what was most successful and what wasn’t as successful as anticipated.

A Cross Cultural Approach: The Path to Addressing Health and Language Disparities in Pediatric Hearing Loss
Sally Tannenbaum, M.Ed., CED, DTH, LSLS Cert. AVT
Alejandra Ullauri, Au.D.

Now is a golden age for children born with hearing loss to grow up as thriving adults in mainstream society. Tragically, children with hearing loss born into poverty do not always share in these amazing gains. Furthermore, children from families from low socioeconomic status whose primary language is not English are at an even greater risk. This session will discuss the University of Chicago Medicine’s Project ASPIRE (Achieving Superior Parental Involvement for Rehabilitative Excellence) and its cross-cultural approach.  A cross-cultural approach is a patient-centered approach and it refers to an exchange of cultures: the patient’s individual culture and the local culture. Project ASPIRE has implemented the ROADMAP plan, which aims to help families navigate and improve their access to the services in place for them. This interaction has the potential to maximize outcomes for children with hearing loss and to empower families with knowledge and a better understanding of the early intervention system.

Destroy a Table: A Game for Professionals
Sebastien Christian 

Language builds a description of the world where its speakers live, through recursive interactions with other speakers.  This description has to be stable enough to allow efficient interaction and decentration, coherent enough to spend only a reasonable amount of energy on comprehension, and still unstable enough to accept change and drift to adapt. This session will first allow participants to explore how concepts and morphology emerge from the child's primitive interactions and how recursivity drives cognitive evolution. The presentation will draw on many fields including linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, information theory and artificial intelligence, among others, to give a coherent theoretical backbone. The session will then tie these in to early hearing loss and propose a set of tools designed to facilitate the emergence and development of concepts in children who are deaf through interactive experiments and practical examples.

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