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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: 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!


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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.

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Recent Study: Remediation Programs for Children with Auditory Processing Disorder

It may seem impossible to keep up with new information in the technological age we live in today, especially if that new information is not a dramatic breakthrough in its field. However, progress is progress regardless of its contribution, and in this blog Little Listeners would like to keep you informed on a recent study about remediation programs for children with Auditory Processing Disorder.

“Comparing Outcome of Formal and Informal Remediation Programs in Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder” by Samah Oraky, Somaia Tawfik, Mohamed Salama, and Enass Mohamed was accepted to The Egyptian Journal of Otolaryngology in January of 2017. This study focused on fifty children who suffered from Auditory Processing Disorder and divided them into two groups. These two groups were then treated with two different remediation methods. The first method was formal auditory training, which involves a set program with specialized equipment. The second method is informal auditory training, which does not require a professional or special equipment.

Both groups underwent two months of their respective therapy programs. The variables measured were their results with four tests including dichotic digits, pitch pattern sequences, auditory fusion, and electrophysiological tests. The dichotic digits test involved repeating a set of four digits. The pitch pattern sequence test involved a series of either high or low pitches, and the patient must recall the order of the pitches. The auditory fusion test involved determining when a sound occurred between long periods of silence. The electrophysiological test was used to determine any specific changes occurring while listening to certain sounds using electrodes placed on the head.

The results of the tests were very promising for both groups. Temporal auditory processing ability, dichotic listening ability, and phonemic awareness were all tested and the results showed significant improvement for both groups.

So, what does this mean for Little Listeners? We use a formal training method (Interactive Metronome) with some supplementary informal training (games and distractions), and our results have mimicked the results in this study. This study proves the effectiveness of our methods and can act as proof beyond testimonials and the extensive research done by Dr. Christa. We look forward to finding more studies related to our field of expertise, as well as contributing more of our own studies.

Resource: Oraky SM, Tawfik S, Salama M, Mohamed ES. Comparing outcome of formal and informal remediation programs in children with central auditory processing disorder. Egypt J Otolaryngol 2017;33:502-7

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Getting Familiar with the New Faces of Little Listeners!

Hello Little Listeners Families! As you may have noticed, there are some new faces and some familiar ones here at Little Listeners. We wanted to give you the opportunity to learn a little bit about each of our awesome interns and our newest Audiology Assistant.

Meet our new Audiology Assistant, Lindsey Wilson! Lindsey recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is still deciding whether she wants to pursue a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology or a Doctorate in Audiology. Her interests are working with clients of all ages, especially friends with communication needs.  She has an extreme passion for helping children. Lindsey cannot wait to see what the future holds and is looking forward to working with the wonderful people at Little Listeners. Welcome our new “Megan,” Lindsey Wilson!

One of our new interns is a former Little Listener herself. Bret was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder at the age of eighteen, so she understands what most of the kids are going through. She graduated from Oak Mountain Academy in 2017, and she recently completed her first year at the University of West Alabama as a student and volleyball athlete.  Her intended major is Elementary Education with the hopes of teaching the 4th grade. Bret has always loved children, and her goal is to help them become better at life while giving back to the community. Bret cannot wait to see what this summer holds for her and the kids at Little Listeners. Welcome Bret Luther!

Let us welcome back a former intern, Emma Phillips. Emma enjoyed our awesome staff and her time here last summer so much she decided to join us again for another exciting summer. Emma graduated from Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in 2017. She will be a sophomore in the fall at the University of Kentucky where she is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is interested in both Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. As she continues to gain experience in both fields this summer, she will be volunteering at another remarkable organization, Jacobs Ladder Center. We are so excited to have her back this summer!

Nathan has been working at Little Listeners for a year now and looks forward to his remaining time here with all of our great clients and staff. Nathan Martin-Obst recently graduated from high school and will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall. Nathan’s passion for the medical field as a whole is demonstrated by his enthusiasm for Prosthetics, Bio printing, and Audiology. Nathan is grateful for the opportunity to continue his internship and to be a part of the team here at Little Listeners.

Last, but not least, an intern who has been a part of the family for about a year and a half. Lauren recently graduated from Alpharetta High School. She will be attending Clemson University this fall. Lauren plans to major in business with a concentration either in finance or accounting. She has loved being able to work with our above and beyond stuff, and she looks forwards to learning even more this summer while helping with all the fun summer activities we have planned.

We are clearly very lucky to have all these great people here at Little Listeners. We cannot wait to spend the summer together!

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Summer Learning Tips & HearBuilder Competition

Kids across the nation are closing their books on a long school year; these next couple months are all about sunshine, pool days, and freedom from school. Why then should parents urge their children to keep learning over the summer?

Many studies have shown that learning over the summer is critical for maintaining knowledge from the previous school year. A study from the RAND Corporation found that when children did not do any academic review over the summer, they lost a significant amount of knowledge from the math and reading categories. Another article numerically equates this lost knowledge to a 25% decrease from overall learning throughout the school year.

If you are a past or current client at Little Listeners, you have access to an incredible program called HearBuilder, which can be accessed online. This is a great resource during the summer months. HearBuilder helps to specifically reinforce primary auditory processing skills, specifically those of attending, listening, storing, and recalling.”

As an additional incentive to keep Hear Builder usage high over summer, Little Listeners is having a contest starting on Monday, June 4th and ending on Friday, August 3rd. The top three kids who use Hear Builder the most over the summer will each win an awesome prize. A white board in the office will be updated to include information about the contest prizes as well as who is in the lead.

In addition to HearBuilder, here are some activities to help maintain learning over the summer:

  1. For a fun outdoor activity, go to a pool and give directions to your child that involve multiple steps (move this toy there, swim to that side, etc.). If the pool is noisy, it allows your child to practice listening in noise processing skills.
  2. Find a few books that a group of friends can read over summer. Then, set a time for a group discussion of the book. If this is not an option, make or find a list of reading comprehension questions online that your child can discuss with you.  
  3. Work on math problems while throwing a ball outside. After a certain number of catches, solve a math problem. Or allow for a dance break or something similar after a certain number of math problems are completed.

So, remember summer learning is essential. Keep working on your HearBuilder program. Ready, set, summer learning!


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The Science of Sound

The process of sound traveling to the brain occurs almost instantaneously. It all starts with sound waves, which are compressing and expanding air molecules. Sound waves enter the ear and go through a process where they are converted to neural messages. Sound enters the ear through the outer ear. The sound waves are then sent to the ear drum, causing the ear drum to vibrate.

Next is the middle ear, in which the three smallest bones in the body (the hammer, anvil, and stirrup) send the vibrations to the cochlea. The cochlea is where transduction occurs, which is the shift of stimuli into neural impulses. These impulses are then sent to the brain to be interpreted.

Once the brain hears the sound, the most important part of the auditory process can begin: “listening.” This allows for you to make sense of the sounds you hear. 


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The Difference Between Hearing and Listening

Have you ever talked to someone and felt that they just weren’t getting what you were saying, even though they were nodding along and maintaining eye contact? They could be hearing what you’re saying, but they just aren’t listening. We typically use “hearing” and “listening” interchangeably, but it’s important to know the difference. According to Merriam-Webster, hearing is defined as “the process, function, or power of perceiving sound” and listening is defined as “to hear something with thoughtful attention”.

In other words, hearing is passive and involuntary, while listening is active and voluntary. We hear, whether we want to or not, but we need to choose to actively listen. Some people don’t have the choice, even when their hearing is excellent. We need to process what we hear in order to completely listen, otherwise the sound goes in one ear and out the other. Listening is a lifelong skill that is necessary for one to make sense of his or her surroundings.

At Little Listener’s, we work with patients to improve their listening skills with various therapy activities so that they can process, communicate, and interact more effectively with the world around them.