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A Holiday Hooray!

This year Little Listeners has accomplished so many incredible things! From new staff members to our kiddos reaching new heights, 2018 was one for the books!

This summer we added a seasonal Audiology Assistant, Lindsey, who decided to stay with us through the school year. With her help, we started summer competitions seeing which Little Listener used HearBuilder and Interactive Metronome Home the most. It was so great seeing all of our friends accomplish their goals while receiving gift cards to awesome places. The summer competitions were definitely a success, and we are so excited to see how the holiday competitions go! From December 3rd to January 7th, we will be monitoring our kiddo who has the most usage with either the IM Home unit and/or HearBuilder program, so if you are a part of these competitions make sure to keep up the work to win those prizes!

Our kiddos winning competitions was not the only exciting thing going on in 2018. Our patients’ progress amazes us more and more every day. A few of our patients have really exceeded expectations! When our friend Tripp first came to us, he had significant goals to meet. At reassessment, he accomplished all of them! It was great to see him excited about not only accomplishing his goals but surpassing them. Teachers of our patients have also told us success story after success story. Seeing their progress pay off in the classroom is a goal we take seriously here at Little Listeners, and from what teachers have been telling us, we have not disappointed. One of our patients, Chase, was terrified of dogs when he first started coming here. By the end of his therapy sessions though, Chase and Olly were best friends! One of the best parts of the Little Listeners experience is hearing our patients tell us how much they have benefitted from our therapy whether that means making new furry friends, accomplishing their in-therapy goals, strengthening skills in the classroom, or having more confidence outside of therapy. Our friend Casler told us that Little Listeners not only helped her with her Dyslexia, but with life in general. It does not get much better than that!

As far as our staff goes, Dr. Reeves became an official GETA speaker this year. She will now be traveling to teach Educators about Auditory Processing Disorder. This education is much needed, so we are very excited that our very own Dr. Reeves will be helping meet this task. We also added an additional support staff member, Karen. She has been helping us around the office, and we cannot imagine what we would do without her. She is working to become an additional Audiology Assistant, so we will have an extra set of hands on deck!  We cannot wait to see where time with her takes us. 

As everyone already knows, Little Listeners goes all out for the holidays. This holiday season is no different. We will be celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas with lots of yummy treats and fun arts and crafts with our kiddos. Little Listeners will also be having tacky holiday week starting on December 10th and ending on December 14th. Come dressed up in your favorite tacky holiday sweater or dressed up as your favorite character from your favorite holiday movie. On December 17th and 19th, we will be wearing our holiday pajamas so feel free to come join our pajama party! Starting on December 20th, Little Listeners will be closed until we reopen on Monday, January 7th, 2019. 

When looking back on this past year, Little Listeners is so proud of all we have accomplished and so thankful we have gotten the opportunity to spend time with all of our special clients. We know 2019 will bring even more exciting and smile-worthy moments. We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! 

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We’re Thankful!

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching! In the spirit of being thankful, Little Listeners wanted to express our appreciation for all of the other disciplines that help our kiddos! It takes a village sometimes, and we are so thankful our village consists of talented Audiologists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Music Therapists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Educational Therapists, just to name a few! With all of these professionals offering great services, it is sometimes hard to know where to start or what the differences are. The most common confusion we see at Little Listeners is the difference between Speech therapy, Sensory Integration therapy, and Auditory Processing therapy. Hopefully this blog will help answer some of these questions.

Speech-Language Pathologists primarily focus on expressive, receptive, and social language, swallowing, voice disorders, stuttering, and speech and language issues for those who have hearing impairments. This therapy might include activities focusing on certain sounds like ‘th’ or ‘r’, feeding therapy, or how to answer questions starting with where or when.

Sensory Integration therapy on the other hand tackles issues involving noise, tactile, taste, and visual sensitivities. During sensory integration therapy, a patient might play with Play-Doh, partake in a brushing activity, or exercise in a sensory room.

At Little Listeners, our Auditory Processing therapy helps the brain learn to listen. When a child can physically hear the stimulus around them, but cannot process it, that is when we see auditory processing difficulties. During our therapy, kiddos listen to tracks of words to practice their listening skills and do rhythm training through Interactive Metronome along with phonological synthesis and auditory memory training. It can be confusing to keep all these disciplines straight especially if your child is in multiple therapies at once.

Little Listeners is dedicated to accomplishing goals across intra-disciplinary lines. In the past, we have consulted with other professionals to ensure the greatest progress for our kiddos. From collaborating with Occupational Therapists to receiving additional ideas from Speech-Language Pathologists, we love learning about other disciplines and how they can contribute to our therapy methods here at Little Listeners. If you ever have any questions about what we do, please do not hesitate to ask. While we might not fully know what your child does in other therapies, we can answer almost any questions you have about what we do at Little Listeners.

On another note, this past October Little Listeners participated in the Dyslexia Dash! This race event raised awareness for Dyslexia and supporting programs in the greater Atlanta area. We were so happy to see some of our Little Listener’s friends, as well as meet new potential clients. Along with private schools, a variety of learning programs and other local therapy companies, we were able to provide information and education to help those with Dyslexia explore their options for intervention techniques. It was great to consult with these other professionals to explore different possibilities for those with Dyslexia. If you would like more information about the awesome people we met at the Dyslexia Dash, please let us know.

One final note: We are so excited to announce is that we are having another HearBuilder and IM Home competition! We had a similar competition over summer which was a great success! Many of our kiddos accomplished goals and improved tremendously in Super Right On’s and progressing through higher levels of the HearBuilder Program. This progress from increased usage at home also helped when the clients came in to the office to be reassessed. We are hoping this competition will help our friends stay motivated over the holiday break and keep working on their auditory processing skills! The winners of this competition will receive awesome gift cards and other great prizes. We will be sending more information and details as we get closer to the beginning of December, so stay tuned!

That’s all for now Little Listeners! We hope this blog finds everyone having a great school year and you are ready for some well needed holiday rest!

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October Is Testing Month!

October is a crucial month for standardized test taking in Georgia. These tests can help parents, teachers, and the school identify strengths and areas that need additional support. With all of these important tests coming up, Little Listeners wanted to provide some tips and tricks for the best outcome possible.

The night before test taking, make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and be encouraging! Test anxiety can develop in children at an extremely young age and get worse over time so try to present the test as a way to show off how much they have learned and how well they can do. It is also a great idea to plan ahead so there is not as much rushing in the morning. This could mean planning what they are going to wear or what they will have for breakfast. When the morning of the test comes, make sure that breakfast is a healthy one and that their outfit is comfortable and familiar. After testing is done, reward your child! Testing takes a lot out of the child mentally, emotionally, and physically. Talk to your child about what they learned from the test and what they would like to work on harder if need be.

When the test results come back, do not compare one child’s performance to another. This could be the case especially for siblings or twins in the same grade. Every student is different so make sure they feel special and proud of their score in their own way. Also, tell them how proud you are of them. A little positivity goes a long way. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or school guidance counselor. Your child’s success is what we are all here for. 

While we all hope for the best outcomes on standardizing testing, sometimes the scores come back and are not what we quite hoped for. If this is the case, it is not the end of the road. It is the beginning of figuring out what the issues are that need to be corrected for the child to reach their highest potential. If your child has low math or reading scores, it could be signs or poor reading comprehension or weak memory and organizational skills. Some children have issues with math facts, this could be a sign of tolerance fading memory. If there are signs of poor spelling, that could be an indicator of a decoding issue. Organizational skills are also present when dealing with multiple choice questions, steps in a math equation, or writing a story. If someone has problems with any of these questions, this could be another red flag. If the child was not able to even finish the test, that could be another indicator or memory or organizational weaknesses. All of these issues are major indicators of Auditory Processing Disorder and can be remediated with proper diagnosis and therapy.

There are also several things parents can do if they know their child has a hard time with noisy environments. Even though teachers try to keep their students quiet during testing, there can be noise coming from the hallway, sneezes, foot tapping, pen clicking, etc. Sending your child to school with ear plugs on testing day is a great option especially if they are seated next to a noise source like a window or door. Asking your child’s teacher if they can sit in the front of the classroom or go to a different space to take their test might be beneficial as well. It is also important for parents to remember to be patient with their child’s teacher and the school. Auditory Processing Disorder is relatively “new” so having to educate the educators is sometimes necessary.

Being patient with your child is also vital. Make sure to give them extra time to organize thoughts and fully comprehend what you are saying or repeat instructions. Sometimes, rephrasing the instructions or using more simple language can also be effective. Understanding Auditory Processing Disorder and helping others around you understand what your child needs can be challenging at times, but it is very worth it in the end.

If you have any additional questions about testing strategies or concerns about your child’s test scores, please reach out to us. Happy testing!

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Little Listeners Intern Takeover

Throughout the last five years here at Little Listeners, we have had the pleasure to host many interns. This past summer, there have been several interns working in the afternoons you have probably met as well. They have helped with countless projects such as monitoring competitions this summer, data analysis with Dr. Reeves, and scheduling appointments for all of our friends. Before our wonderful interns go off to do bigger and better things, they would like to say some things about their time here at Little Listeners.

My name is Lauren Casey, and I have been an intern at Little Listeners for about a year and a half. I have found Little Listeners to be so rewarding because I have been able to see how their business works as well as make connections with the amazing kids. Everyone at Little Listeners is so invested, engaged, and genuinely loves what they do. This internship has been one of the best parts of my high school career, and I am so glad I have had the opportunity to work here!

-Lauren

I’ve been at Little Listeners for almost a year now, and although that may not seem very long, it has made a huge impact on me in ways I never expected. I began at Little Listeners as an intern for a class at my high school, where I was looking forward to working in a clinic setting with unusual, but tested and effective, methods of treatment. Working here has led to realize the importance of Audiology and to understand how to work with children in a way that doesn’t belittle or bore them. I am grateful to the incredible women who work here, and I hope to repay them by teaching others what I’ve learned here. Thanks for letting me be part of your weekly schedule!

-Nathan

I interned with Little Listeners my senior year of high school, and I am so grateful to have learned from Dr. Reeves, her team, and the kids as well! Each day in the office was different, and I worked with kids of all ages – from infants to middle schoolers. The most memorable part of the experience was watching Dr. Reeves successfully run her own business in an environment she is passionate about. Once I started at UNC Chapel Hill in 2015, I furthered this interest in the business side of healthcare by studying both business administration and biology. I just graduated last month and am excited to move to Raleigh, North Carolina to work for a market research consultancy that focuses in healthcare/pharmaceutical primary research. My internship with Little Listeners definitely showed me the excitement that comes along with working in healthcare, and I hope to continue that excitement throughout my career!

  -Elizabeth 

“This is my second summer as an intern at Little Listeners and it has been such an incredible experience. I have been able to observe therapy sessions, research relevant topics for blog posts, and help facilitate office tasks. I feel that I am better equipped for my undergraduate studies as a Communication Sciences and Disorders major at the University of Kentucky. My understanding of the Audiology field has expanded as well as my leadership skills.”

-Emma

We want to thank all of our amazing interns – past and present – for the wonderful times we have all spent together. As much as they have enjoyed working here, we have enjoyed them and appreciate their hard work and dedication even more. Hopefully, the lessons learned here whether it be business or healthcare related will be beneficial to them with all their future endeavors. We wish all our interns the best of luck wherever life takes them!

Sincerely,

The Staff of Little Listeners

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Auditory Processing Disorder Subtypes

As anyone who has spent time in our office will know, Little Listeners is passionate about treating and educating people about Auditory Processing Disorder. What some might not know is that there are six different subtypes of APD. In this blog, we will attempt to define and outline these subtypes as well as explain what they might look like.

Decoding Deficit – A DD is the inability to process and discriminate incoming auditory information.  This deficit manifests itself as a discrimination issue with misunderstanding information, difficulty hearing in noise, and weaknesses with language skills such as reading, spelling, and vocabulary. Patients often have difficulty with sounding out words, discriminating between similar-sounding words, speech clarity, and word ending discrimination.

Tolerance Fading Memory – A TFM deficit is an inability to retain auditory information as well as a significant inability to process information with background noise present. This is characterized by poor handwriting, short-term memory weaknesses, difficulties with reading comprehension and expressive language disorder.  Often individuals will need instructions to be repeated, are easily distracted, and experience auditory overload.

Associative Deficit – An associative deficit is defined by information becoming stalled during processing, which results in patients being unable to understand how language fits together. Patients will have difficulties in reading and listening comprehension, as well as a poor understanding of word problems, and often difficulty with writing. This deficit can often be characterized as an auditory manifestation of a language processing disorder.

Output/Organization Deficit – An organization deficit occurs when a patient is unable to act on the incoming information which is trying to get to another part of the brain. Patients will display symptoms such as difficulty with sequences and follow-throughs, and impulsivity.  They often appear disorganized and inattentive.

Prosody – A prosodic deficiency results from a lack of understanding the unspecified cues of language. Patients may have a monotone voice and may develop social or emotional disorders as a result of the deficit. Patients will have difficulties with focus, background noise, directions, or the true intent of a verbal message (sarcasm, irony, etc). Social cues and facial expressions may mean little to them, and they may often display defensive behavior due to misunderstanding social cues.

Integration – An integration deficit occurs because of a difficulty in transferring information between the left and right sides of the brain. Patients will hear clearly, but the individual pieces of information will not logically piece together. They may feel as though they have details but cannot see the big picture because they have too much information to comprehend. Patients will have difficulties with multi-tasking, transitioning, listening in noise, reading comprehension, spelling, and written language.

Having any of the subtypes of APD can be a huge struggle for children, especially in learning environments where their success can impact their future. If you suspect your child has one of these subtypes, please talk to us about it. With proper diagnosis and a successful therapy program, it is possible for those struggling with APD to reach their highest level of success.

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Limit Technology Usage for a Healthier Summer!

As shared last week, staying healthy over summer involves maintaining a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle. Another key aspect for a healthy lifestyle comes from understanding your technology usage. With technology surrounding us at work, school, and in social environments, it may seem impossible to limit screen time. Since children are exposed to technology as they are still developing, it is important to understand the recommended guidelines for healthy technology usage. Summer is a great time to assess your family’s technology habits and implement changes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published the following guidelines for technology usage:

  • For children younger than 2 years old, they recommend no technology.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years old, they recommend an hour or less of supervised media time per day.
  • For children ages 6 and older, they recommend that guardians emphasize sleep, physical activity, and school over screen time.

An average day for a healthy child includes 8 to 12 hours of sleep, an hour of physical activity, and time for social interaction in addition to school. It is important to recognize that school activities and educational tools are often accessed online. Recreational screen time (video games, television, social media) is the area to reduce the most.

The AAP has an online calculator to create an individualized technology plan for your family. By entering in all the activities your child does each day, it creates a daily schedule and allots the remaining time for technology. You can create your plan here: HealthyChildren.org: Create Your Family Media Plan

Below are some tips to consider for your technology diet:

  • Limit screen time during meals
  • Turn off technology at least one hour prior to bedtime
  • Have designated technology free zones in your home
  • Focus on online educational activities such as HearBuilder (our favorite)
  • Increase time spent outdoors with family and friends

Through decreasing time idly spent online, you will have more time to focus on your overall health. This summer is the time to power down devices and get outside!

References:

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Staying Healthy Over Summer!

In the summer, eating healthy is usually the last thing on your mind. With all of the traveling and summer holiday fun, it can seem nearly impossible. While it is perfectly normal to indulge in the summer, it is also important to do so in moderation. You should be practicing a healthy lifestyle most of the time so that you can occasionally indulge in fun foods without any of the guilt or health repercussions.  

If you know you need to change your eating habits but are unsure where to start, you can try to slowly eliminate the unhealthiest parts of your diet. It is important to be aware of what you are eating and make note of what you could change. A key way to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet is by stocking up on healthy food in your home and cutting back on buying junk food. That way, when you want a snack or have to make meals at home, it will be nearly impossible to eat poorly. Parents should be especially conscious of what they are buying because that is what their children will also be eating. It is important to choose not only healthy foods, but foods that you enjoy and would not mind eating. This will make it much easier to make the switch to a healthier diet. 

Below is a list of simple changes you might want to consider to improve your diet and overall health:

  • Avoid sugary drinks and opt for water instead
  • Start buying whole wheat bread instead of white bread
  • Buy healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, raisins, low-fat yogurt, protein bars, oatmeal, or peanut butter pretzels
  • Eat more protein to fill you up for longer amounts of time

It’s important to remember that eating healthy is really about giving your body the nutrients it needs. Another key part of maintaining good health is exercise. Just like you should try to choose healthy foods you enjoy eating, you should also try to choose exercises that you find interesting and fun. Below is a list of fun exercise options you may want to try:

  • Dancing/Zumba
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Kickboxing
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Biking

So remember, great foods plus fun exercise is a definite way to have the best summer yet!

Here are some links for additional information:

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Have No Fear… Protect Your Ears While Swimming!

Swimming is a great way to cool off on a hot summer day because it can be both refreshing and fun! In the blazing sun, most people instinctively apply sunscreen to protect their skin, but they don’t often think to protect their ears as well.

Sometimes after jumping in the pool, it may feel like some water is “stuck” in your ear. It is important to try to drain the water by turning your head to the side and slowly shaking it. If water remains in your ear after swimming, it can cause an ear infection in the outer ear canal. This kind of infection is called otitis externa, which is commonly known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is one of the two kinds of ear infections – the other being otitis media or a middle ear infection.

Swimmer’s ear can be prevented by wearing earplugs while swimming, as the ear plugs can stop the water from entering your ear canals. A middle ear infection, however, can be harder to prevent. Middle ear infections occur behind the eardrum and are very common in children.

It is recommended that parents and their children frequently wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs and thus limit the amount of middle ear infections. Over time, children’s immune systems will strengthen and they will be less susceptible to this kind of ear infection. In the case one does acquire an ear infection, oftentimes these infections will go away on their own. Both swimmer’s ear and middle ear infections can be treated with ear drops or, in more severe cases, antibiotics. So, the next time you go swimming, you should protect your ears just as you would protect your skin! 

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Little Listeners Progress Note Breakdown!

Hello Little Listeners families! We are sure that when you look at your child’s PROGRESS NOTE at the end of each session, you have some questions as to what it all means. This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about all of those abbreviations and mystery words.

The first part of your child’s progress note will show their scores for the PASE Program Recordings which include the three tracks of words they listen to – Distorted Words, Words in Noise, and Competing Words. Distorted Words are words that are recorded in muffled speech. Words in Noise are words said in a noisy background. Competing Words are two words said at once – one word in each ear. To pass a track and move on to the next one, there are certain mastery levels. For Distorted Words and Competing Words, mastery level is 45 correct words out of 50. For Words in Noise, the mastery level is 40 correct words out of 50. If we see that kids are really struggling with the words then we might “cue” or do a “directed ear” attempt. “Cueing” is an approach used for Distorted Words and Words in Noise, when we will ask the kids two words they hear – one is the word on the recording and one is a word that sounds like it or a word they have said before which is incorrect. This is done to try to help them clean up the sounds they hear in hopes they will finally hear the correct sound. A “directed ear” approach is done for Competing Words. This task involves hearing both words, but only repeating the word they hear in their left ear then the track is played again, but only the right ear word is repeated. This helps to focus on one ear at a time, so putting them together again easier.

Rhythm Training or Interactive Metronome (IM) is the constant cow bell noise you hear in our office. It is an evidence-based assessment and training tool that measures and improves neuro timing, or the synchronization of neural impulses within key brain networks for cognitive, communicative, sensory and motor performance. As the kids clap or tap, they are activating a trigger with a steady beat. IM technology then provides real-time auditory and visual feedback for millisecond timing. Knowing if the child is hitting before, after, or exactly in sync with the beat to the millisecond allows the individual to make immediate corrections to improve timing and rhythm over the course of training. According to IM research, improving neuro timing may result in better function in the following areas: attention, processing speed, working memory, executive functions, self-regulation, expressive and amp; receptive language, reading comprehension, rate and amp; fluency, mathematics, motor coordination, and athletic performance.

Next to the IM section of the progress sheet, you will see columns under Secondary Training for PST or Phonological Synthesis Training, H & F or H and Friends, and Memory Training. We do not always work on these tasks every session, but they are great tools to improve phonological awareness and auditory memory skills.  PST is done when we give the individual sounds of a word and the child has to blend the sounds and state the word we are saying. For example, the therapist would say C/A/T. The child would then respond CAT!  H & F training focuses on repetitious sound discrimination to include vowels, consonant + vowels and consonant + vowel + consonant words.  Memory training is used when the child needs to work on their auditory memory skills. We do this by saying anywhere from one to four words and have the child repeat these words back to us. We sometimes incorporate numbers or have them say the sequence backwards.  Both of these practices will help your child’s score improve on their post-assessment. In the Other column, we usually write an activity we did such as coloring or what they did while listening like hanging out on the swing.  

We hope all of this information will help you understand better what we do in therapy and how hard we all work to make our Little Listeners the best they can be.

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Recent Research on APD by Our Own Dr. Reeves

Research on Auditory Processing Disorder is still up and coming, but with how many people are being diagnosed, it is essential to know more. So of course, our very own Dr. Reeves took it upon herself to conduct a new research study. This study looked at the effectiveness of APD therapy in a quantitative aspect.

Alongside Dr. Jay Lucker from Howard University, Dr. Reeves conducted research on past clients here at Little Listeners. They looked at 125 children that Dr. Reeves saw between April of 2015 and March of 2016. Their main goal was to identify if the APD abilities in the children treated with listening and rhythm training improved significantly. To answer this question, they looked at pre-treatment and post-treatment test scores of the children treated. They also looked at whether the differences were caused by the specific auditory processing deficit, age of the child, or number of treatment sessions.

The study concluded that using listening therapy, rhythm training, and Phonemic Synthesis training did improve auditory processing abilities and sped up reaction time with responding to sounds. They also found that these results were completely unrelated to age.

We are so proud of Dr. Reeves for publishing a study that not only proves what we do at Little Listeners is highly effective, but can also be used around the country to help those with Auditory Processing Disorder. To learn more about the study, click on the attachment for this post.