March 1, 2013 Departments

News in Brief: March 2013

Worldwide Communications Professionals to Gather in Italy

The 29th World Congress of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics will take place Aug. 25–29 in Torino, Italy.

With members from more than 55 countries, IALP is the worldwide organization of professionals and scientists in communication, voice, speech-language pathology, audiology and swallowing. The organization holds a scientific congress every three years.

The 2013 gathering, "Where Practice Meets Science," will feature three main reports:

  • Brain Behavior Relationships: Assessment and Treatment of Child Language Disorders.
  • Cognitive Reserve: Management of Communication Disorders in the Elderly.
  • Neuromotor Processing: Clinical Implications in Speech Disorders.

The congress will also include special events on managing swallowing disorders; best outcomes in children with cochlear implants; communication disorders in the multilingual population; the legal aspects of challenges in occupational voice disorders; and strategies for implementing the World Health Organization's world report on disability.

Several ASHA members serve in IALP leadership roles, including Tanya Gallagher, president; and committee chairs Judy Montgomery (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), Yvette Hyter (Child Language), Dolores Battle (History) and Rahul Shrivastav (Voice).

For more information, visit the conference's website.

DSM-5 Changes Scheduled for May Release

The American Psychiatric Association will release the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the standard classification of mental disorders used by a wide variety of professionals in clinical and community settings in the U.S. and other countries—in May.

ASHA submitted comments during the three open comment periods for the proposed DSM-5 content.

Autism criteria

Although the specific changes are not yet public, the APA has announced that some diagnostic criteria have been changed, including those for autism spectrum disorder. DSM-5 will no longer use "pervasive developmental disorder" and its subcategories (autistic disorder, Rett's disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger's disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). Instead, children meeting the criteria will be given a diagnosis of "autism spectrum disorder" with varying degrees of severity. According to an APA news release, this change will "help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism." ASHA supported this change because research demonstrated that the subcategories could not be reliably differentiated.

The change means, for example, that a child who has symptoms of Asperger's syndrome will be given a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, as will a child meeting the criteria for PDD-NOS or classic autism.

Some parents have expressed concern that children, particularly those who are high functioning, may not receive the diagnosis—and consequently won't qualify for treatment for the social and communication deficits that are the hallmark of autism spectrum disorder. A recent study predicts that 10 percent of children who have received one of the eliminated diagnoses will no longer meet the more restrictive criteria (which have not yet been released), although previous estimates were as high as 45 percent.

Intellectual disabilities

The APA indicated acceptance of another ASHA recommendation—to use the term "intellectual disabilities" rather than "mental retardation," a departure from the APA's proposed term of "intellectual developmental disorder." The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, ASHA and other organizations strongly opposed the APA proposal because it was inconsistent with the more commonly accepted term "intellectual disability," which has been adopted already in many federal and state laws. In addition to using the term "intellectual disability," the DSM-5 changes the diagnostic criteria to rely less on a person's specific IQ score and more on clinical assessment.

Online Pediatric Audiology Directory Goes Live

All audiology facilities providing services for children are encouraged to register with a new online directory of pediatric audiology facilities that will be available to the public in April.

The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Pediatric Audiology Links to Services, which ASHA helped develop, is a Web-based directory and search engine designed to help parents, hospital personnel and physicians identify pediatric audiology facilities that will meet the needs of a child and his or her family. Facilities listed in EHDI-PALS must have appropriate equipment and be able to provide audiology services to evaluate and treat children who are younger than 5 years old. Additionally, these services must be provided by licensed audiologists.

The online database contains the locations of pediatric audiology clinics that have requested to be listed and have stated that they meet certain objective requirements.

Facilities can register with EHDI-PALS by completing a 10- to 20-minute online survey. Each facility's profile will be developed from the information provided on the survey. No quality ratings are assigned. Only practices that respond to the survey will be included. Registered facilities can update their information as needed and will receive annual reminders to keep their information current.

For more information, contact Anne Oyler, AuD, CCC-A, ASHA associate director of audiology practices, at

Code Council Committee Agrees to Consider Classroom Acoustics

A committee of the International Code Council voted in January to include an amendment to the disability building code that specifies classroom acoustics standards.

The International Building Codes are a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes. The ICC codes have been adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The classroom acoustic amendment calls for limits on interior-source noise; clarifies measurement and evaluation of noise; and requires classroom audio distribution/amplification systems.

ASHA has advocated for the adoption of classroom acoustics standards in the ICC and in building codes for several years. The amendment is based on an American National Standards Institute standard, developed by the Acoustical Society of America with input from ASHA and other organizations. ANSI standards are voluntary, however, unless adopted into laws or building codes.

The ICC's A117.1 Consensus Committee on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities voted 24 to 19 in a voice vote to include the code amendment. The voice vote, however, does not codify the amendment, but initiates a multi-step process of further consideration and review.

"If this acoustics code survives the process, it could eventually work its way into every new school building in the country," said Neil Snyder, ASHA director of federal advocacy. "ASHA will follow ICC developments very closely and will work with other organizations to advocate for the inclusion of the classroom acoustics amendment into the International Codes."

Joint Commission Debuts New Nursing and Rehab Accreditation and Certification Standards

The Joint Commission recently announced its new Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Accreditation program—replacing the Long Term Care Accreditation program—which offers a new Rehabilitation and Advanced Care Certification option. The accreditation program and certification option, the products of a year-long revision process that included input from consumers, providers, payers and other stakeholders, take effect July 1.

The independent, nonprofit Joint Commission provides voluntary evaluation and accreditation to more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The new programs include standards that focus on key care processes that lead to improved outcomes; certification of specialized services; on-site surveys that better identify potential risk and high-performing areas; specially trained surveyors; and an accreditation manual redesigned as a workbook to support overall performance improvement.

For more information, visit The Joint Commission's website.

Court Upholds Delayed Assistive Technology Implementation Evaluation

A U.S. appellate court has found that although a Texas school district failed to tailor a student's individualized education program to her precise assistive technology needs, it did not fail to provide the student with a free and appropriate public education. In its December 2012 ruling on R.P. ex rel. R.P. and C.P. v. Alamo Heights Indep. Sch. Dist., the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that despite the school district's delayed provision and consideration of an assistive technology evaluation, the student—who has autism, an intellectual disability, and a communication disorder—obtained educational benefit. Read the appellate court's decision [PDF].

FDA Approves Clinical Trial of Auditory Brainstem Implants for Children

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a clinical trial of an auditory brainstem implant procedure for children.

The ABI, a prosthetic hearing device that stimulates neurons directly at the human brainstem, bypassing the inner ear and auditory nerve entirely, has been implanted in more than 1,000 adults worldwide. It is used for people who are deaf because their auditory nerve and cochlea are nonfunctioning or absent and therefore cannot benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants.

The trial is a surgical collaboration sponsored by the House Research Institute, which developed the ABI, in partnership with Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Vittorio Colletti of the University of Verona (Italy) Hospital. It is part of an international consortium with the University of Verona for teaching and research to advance the use of the ABI in children worldwide. The ABI is approved for use in children in Italy, and recipients so far have demonstrated potential to understand speech and to participate in regular education classrooms.

The researchers anticipate securing final institutional approvals and funding commitments in the next several months, clearing the way for the study team to begin to evaluate patients for potential enrollment.


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