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Speechies Speak Out!

June 19, 2014

Throughout May, Speechies went around the campus at the U of A and around the community to raise awareness and promote who we are and what we do during Speech & Hearing month. We put up posters around campus, handed out info sheets, and talked with people about speech and language. Some people even got to experience what it would be like to have difficulty communicating by telling a story with their tongue not being able to touch the roof of their mouth or teeth or trying to say every third word backwards!

- ECHA -

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- Kinsmen Recreation Centre -

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- Terwillegar Recreation Centre -

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- Commonwealth Recreation Centre -

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A HUGE thank you to all the Speechies who volunteered their time to help out!!

author: BY

OASIS Fundraises for the Tevie Miller Heritage School Society

June 11, 2014

Every year, the Organization of Alberta Students in Speech (OASIS) chooses an organization to support through a fundraiser during Speech and Hearing Month in May.  This year, we chose to fundraise for the Tevie Miller Heritage School Society.

The Organization

Choosing an organization to support wasn’t easy.  There are so many causes that relate to speech that we would like to support, and we wish we could have chosen them all.  We also wanted to make sure we chose a local organization, so that we could support the Edmonton community.

In our first week of our Language and Literacy class taught by Melissa Skoczylas, we learned about the Tevie Miller Heritage School Society and were immediately drawn into what they do for children with communication delays and disorders.  The Tevie Miller Heritage School Society provides funds to the Tevie Miller Heritage School Program, which is an Edmonton Public School “Program of Choice” that specializes in teaching children with speech and/or language delays, disabilities or disorders. The Society facilitates the provision of enhanced speech-language services that cannot be paid for from the educational allocation that the school receives from Alberta Education. 

The program is entirely funded by parents of children attending the school, fundraising, donations, and private benefactors.  We felt that providing specialized speech and language services is an amazing thing to do, and this was exactly what OASIS was looking for when choosing an organization to support.  In addition, several students in the M.Sc-SLP Class of 2015 had previously volunteered for this organization, making it an organization that was already close to our hearts.

The fundraiser

The OASIS Public Relations Committee (Andrea Perez-Leon, Andrea Simioni, Melissa Kinsman) took on planning for the fundraiser.  The fundraiser was held at The Comic Strip at West Edmonton Mall.  Starting in January, we began collecting donations for a silent auction, promoting the fundraiser, and selling as many tickets as we could.

The fundraiser was held on May 21, 2015.  We were initially worried about ticket sales, since a lot of us are not from the Edmonton area and don’t know a lot of people who we could invite.  Nevertheless, our wonderful classmates stepped up, and we managed to sell 91 tickets to the event!  With the ticket sales, and silent auction, we managed to raise a total of $2447.24 for the Tevie Miller Heritage School Society.

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Our silent auction at The Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall.

We could not be happier with how the event turned out, and would like to thank the following people for their support:

The Tevie Miller Heritage School Society

OASIS & The UAlberta SLP Class of 2015

The Comic Strip

Our many silent auction donors: Peace Hills General Insurance Company, The Edmonton Police Association, Literacy For Life, Renee Carrier, Fort In View Golf Course, Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Joann Newton, Royal Tyrrell Museum, Calgary Stampede, Telus World of Science, Vertically Inclined Rock Gym, GianCarlo Oddone of Automotive Technologies Inc., Domenic Laratta of Giusti Group of Companies, Donna Nash, Chianti Cafe, Canyon Creek Toyota, Southgate Buick GMC, Delaney Jackson, Edmonton Eskimos

And everyone who attended the event!  We could not have done this without you, and we are happy to have been able to support an organization that does amazing things for children.

Awe and joy.

- Andrea Perez-Leon, OASIS Public Relations Committee

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For more information on the Tevie Miller Heritage School Society, visit http://www.teviemillerheritage.epsb.ca/

Follow OASIS on twitter at @OASIS_UofA, and like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/OASISUofA!

 

Speech & Hearing Month

May 2, 2014

May is Speech & Hearing month. To kick things off, we want to highlight the importance of communication as it relates to speech and hearing. Here are 5 things you may not have known about communication:

#1.  The opportunity to communicate is a basic human right.

Communication is crucial to participation in life.  However, it is often overlooked and ignored as a disability.  The International Communication Project serves to raise awareness of of communication disabilities and the impact they have on daily life, and to raise the profile of communication disabilities with international health bodies and policy makers.

Get involved:  Sign the pledge and find out more.

#2.  Communication can take many different forms – not just spoken language.

Visual: gestures, facial expression, eye contact, and body posture convey a wealth of information to the listener.

Alternative & Augmentative Communication: alphabet boards, electronic devices, American Sign Language, or communication books bypass the spoken modality to convey messages.

With the advent of technology, communication is becoming more accessible for individuals with speech, language, or hearing difficulties.

#3. People from birth to death can benefit from the services of an SLP or audiologist.

From infants to the elderly, SLPs can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, clinics, private practise, and even prisons. Check out this previous post for more information: http://ualbertaslp.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/one-profession-many-specialties/

#4. An individual can have difficulties in the areas of speech, language, and/or communication.

Speech is the verbal means of communication, which includes articulation (how sounds are made), voice (how your vocal folds produce sound), and fluency (the rhythm of oneès speech).

Language encompasses the meaning of words, how to make new words, how to put words together, and situationally combining words in different situations.  An individual can have difficulties in expressing themselves using language, or in understanding language.

#5. Universal Newborn Hearing Screenings needs improvement.

Hearing loss can affect 5 in every 1,000 newborns in wealthy countries such as Canada.  Screening the hearing of newborns promotes early detection of hearing loss, which can lead to early intervention and better language outcomes.  Unfortunately, Canada’s screening needs some work – Speech and Audiology Canada along with the Canadian Academy of Audiology recently released a report card on the state of Newborn Screening in Canada.  Read more about it here and raise awareness.

Check back throughout the month for more highlights on Speech & Hearing month!

- APL & BY

Class of 2015 – Speechie Spotlight #2

March 28, 2014

What is the Class of 2015 like?  Who are we? What do we like to do? Why are we here?

This is the second of a series of posts profiling some of the amazing people that make up the SLP Class of 2015.

This week we feature Andrea Perez-Leon, Kelsey Earle, Julie Peters, and Kathryn Anton.  Stay tuned for more of these!

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Class of 2015 – Speechie Spotlight #1

March 3, 2014

What is the Class of 2015 like?  Who are we? What do we like to do? Why are we here?

This is the first of a series of posts profiling some of the amazing people that make up the SLP Class of 2015.  Enjoy!

This week we feature Jacqueline Smith, Claire Eleason, Kathleen Engel, and Lisa Dembicki.

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One Profession, Many Specialties

February 20, 2014

Regularly my classmates ask me what specialty area I would like to end up in.  This post looks at many, if not all, specialty areas I could dig up.

The major divide in the profession appears to be between the education system / community SLPs and the medical SLPs.  This division is significant enough that there are even programs in the U.S. that cater to one or the other, though they’re not as common.  These programs appear to give the same qualifications, but the medical SLP programs have more preparation for medical environments, such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

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School SLPs are perhaps the best-known and most common among us.  They work in one, several, or many schools to identify and treat children who show signs or risk of disorder.  Often they work one-on-one with students, though in-class assessment and treatment is more common.  These SLPs are employed by the school board, or in the case of much of Alberta, the health care authority.  Child Language and Language Disorders is a recognized specialty area for those who work primarily with children who have language difficulties.  The other side of the coin are clinicians who specialize in Phonological and Articulation Disorders.  A fusion of these two skillsets are required for any school SLP, and certainly competence to at least recognize disorders in other specialty areas would be beneficial.

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A challenging area is that of Fluency and Fluency Disorders; these specialists work with those who stutter, both in early intervention and the especially challenging area of adult fluency disorders.

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UntitledFor those SLPs who work in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, much time will be spent working with Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders.  This area requires the ability to judge a client’s success with swallowing using bedside and instrumental techniques, such as videofluoroscopy.  Related areas are that of Motor Speech Disorders and Voice / Resonance Disorders.  Those who suffer damage to their nervous system, due either to injury or disease, may exhibit difficulties with their speech, known as motor speech disorders.  Alternatively, when the speech mechanism or the physical structure of the head and neck changes, speech may sound notably different in what are termed voice and resonance disorders.

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Aural Rehabilitation specialists are those who work with clientswho have lost part or all of their hearing, either very early in life or acquired sometime later.  This involves much collaboration with audiologists and medical specialists to best use amplification devices and implants, and to help integrate the client into their environment.  This discipline is shared with audiology and teachers for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

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nicuSLPs who work in pediatric hospital settings sometimes specialize in working with Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients, or may become feeding specialists, clinicians who work with children and parents to overcome breastfeeding and bottle feeding difficulties.

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aacLastly are the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) specialists; these clinicians help clients who have a temporary or permanent loss of the ability to communicate in a traditional way.  They use a range of technology, ranging from gestures and blinks, to pen and paper, to electronic voice synthesizers.

SLPs can also work in highly specialized settings that work with particular disorders:  aural rehabilitation, brain injury, learning delays / disorders, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, head and neck cancer, accent reduction, gender-reassignment voice therapy, autism, and more.

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For those who are more research-inclined, there is really no limit to what you could study within the field, but here are a few sample areas:

Neurogenics

Neurophysiology

Speech science

Hearing science and aural rehabilitation

Bilingualism

Autism and other developmental disorder

Language and literacy

Language processing

Speech perception

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I’m still unsure of where I will end up.  Which specialty did you or do you hope to get into?  Why?

LP

The Preterm Infant, Ototoxic Drugs, and the NICU

February 3, 2014

This update steps a little outside of speech-language pathology’s typical scope, but it is still something that affects us and our clients.

blog_ototoxic-drugs-audicus-hearing-aidsIn 2007 the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that all infants with increased risk for hearing loss receive hearing screening between 24 and 30 months of age.  One significant risk factor is the use of ototoxic drugs, particularly with premature neonates.  The development of the cochlea occurs relatively late during gestation, as demonstrated by higher frequencies (1000 – 3000 Hz) only being detectable within the womb after about 33 weeks.  When born prematurely, the infant may be exposed to the hearing world before they’re ready; the NICU is noisy and confusing, with sounds from a plethora or machines and people reaching peaks of 120 dBA.  Expectedly, the exposure to such intense sound even occasionally can have long-lasting effects on hearing.

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The immune system of premature infants is also not at peak efficiency.  Common in NICU infants is a body-wide septic infection, for which one or a series of broad-spectrum antibiotics will be used.  Aminoglycosides — most commonly the affordable gentamicin — are commonly used for their efficacy against Gram-negative bacteria.  Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of this drug type is toxicity to the auditory nerve.  Animal studies have suggested that children are significantly more prone than adults to ototoxicity of aminoglycosides.

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NICU Tour

Although the results in the literature prevent definite conclusions — largely due to variations in dosage, noise levels, and duration — the pairing of noise and ototoxic drugs potentiates the risk to early hearing loss.  Loud noise may in fact directly increase the effects of aminoglycosides:  Louder noises cause mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) to take place in hair cells, opening the cell to the expected electrolyte and also the unexpected ototoxic drug.  The effect is further increased by certain mitochondial mutations, though the prevalence of this in premature infants is not well known.

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The implications and recommendations accumulated from the references below are as follows:

  • Create a quieter NICU environment by using silent alarms, sound-level checks, private bed suites, and more.
  • Genetic testing to determine elevated risk to aminoglycoside ototoxicity.
  • Expand the research in aminoglycoside use and safety.
  • Advise regular hearing screening in the first few years of life.

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More information on ototoxicity: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Ototoxic-Medications/

Recommended resources:

White RD. Designing environments for developmental care. Clin Perinatol 2011; 38:745–749.

White RD. The newborn intensive care unit environment of care: how we got here, where we’re headed, and why. Semin Perinatol 2011; 35:2–7.

Refs:

Joint Committee on infant hearing. Year 2007 position statement: principles and guidelines for early hearing detection and intervention programs. Pediatrics. 2007;120:898–921.

So, T. Y. (2009). Use of Ototoxic Medications in Neonates—The Need for Follow-Up Hearing Test. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics: JPPT14(4), 200.

Zimmerman, E., & Lahav, A. (2012). Ototoxicity in preterm infants: effects of genetics, aminoglycosides, and loud environmental noise. Journal of Perinatology33(1), 3-8.

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