Preschool Teachers Perceive Hearing Assistive Technology
Hearing assistive technology is frequently used in
classrooms of preschoolers who are deaf or hard of hearing, with generally
positive teacher perceptions of the benefits of using such technology,
according to a study published in the July 2013 issue of Language, Speech, and
Hearing Services in Schools.
Using a cross-sectional survey design, University of Utah
researchers—led by Lauri H. Nelson—explored how often sound-field amplification
and personal frequency-modulated systems are used in preschool classrooms,
teacher perceptions of advantages and disadvantages of using hearing assistive
technology, and teacher recommendations for hearing assistive technology use.
The authors sent 306 surveys to 162 U.S. deaf education
programs. Ninety-nine programs returned completed surveys (32 percent).
The authors received surveys from teachers working at
listening and spoken-language preschool programs (65 percent) and at
bilingual-bicultural and total communication preschool programs (35 percent).
Most respondents said hearing assistive technology improved students' academic
performance (71 percent), speech and language development (79 percent), and
attention in the classroom (67 percent). Most respondents also reported that
they definitely or probably would recommend a sound-field or personal FM system
to other educators.
First Full Genome Sequencing for Autism
A collaborative formed by Autism Speaks, a science and
advocacy organization, has performed full genome sequencing and examined the
entire DNA code of people with autism spectrum disorder and their family
members. The findings provide evidence that whole-genome sequencing data can
aid in the detection and clinical evaluation of people with ASD, and also
provides a look at the wide-ranging genetic variations associated with ASD.
The study, led by Yong-hui Jiang of the Duke University
School of Medicine—published online July 11, 2013, in the American Journal of
Human Genetics—reports on full genome sequencing of 32
unrelated Canadians with autism and their families.
This dramatic finding of genetic risk variants associated
with clinical manifestation of ASD or accompanying symptoms in 50 percent of
the participants tested is promising, because current diagnostic technology has
been able to determine a genetic basis in only about 20 percent of tested people
with ASD. The large number of families identified with genetic alterations of
concern is in part due to the comprehensive and uniform ability to examine
regions of the genome possible with whole-genome sequencing.
Researchers identified genetic variations associated with
risk for ASD including de novo, X-linked and other inherited DNA lesions in
four genes not previously recognized for ASD; nine genes previously determined
to be associated with ASD risk; and eight candidate ASD-risk genes. Some families
had a combination of genes involved. In addition, risk alterations were found
in genes associated with fragile X or related syndromes, social-cognitive
deficits, epilepsy, and ASD-associated CHARGE syndrome—a genetic syndrome that
is the leading cause of congenital deaf-blindness.
In this pilot effort, 99 people were tested, including the
32 people with ASD (25 male and seven female) and their parents, as well as
three members of one control family not on the autism spectrum. This initiative
will ultimately perform whole genome sequencing on more than 2,000
participating families who have two or more children with ASD. Data from the
10,000 genetic resource exchange participants will enable new research in the
genomics of ASD.
More SLPs Use Traditional Interventions for Speech Sound
Speech-language pathologists provided children ages 3 to 6
who had speech sound disorders with 30 or 60 minutes of treatment weekly,
regardless of group or individual setting, according to survey results
published in the July 2013 issue of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in
Schools. The study confirms previous findings about the
amount of service provided to this population.
Kansas State University researchers, led by Klaire Mann
Brumbaugh, e-mailed a survey to 2,084 SLPs who worked in pre-elementary
settings across the United States, asking about service delivery and
interventions with children ages 3 to 6 who have speech sound disorders. More
SLPs indicated that they used traditional intervention—focused on the
correction of individual phonemes—than other types of intervention. However,
many SLPs also reported using aspects of phonological intervention and
providing phonological awareness training. Fewer SLPs indicated that they used
nonspeech oral-motor exercises than in a previous survey. Recently graduated
SLPs were no more familiar with recent advances in phonological intervention
than their more experienced colleagues.
Brain Tracks Frequency and Time to Hear Salient Sounds
Research reveals how our brains track frequency and time to
pick out important sounds from the noisy world around us. The findings, published online July 23 in the journal eLife, could
lead to new diagnostic tests for hearing disorders.
Ears effortlessly pick out the sounds we need to hear from a
noisy environment—a mobile phone ringtone in the middle of a carnival, for
example—but how the brain processes this information (the "cocktail party
problem") has been a longstanding question.
Researchers, led by Sundeep Teki of the University College
London, used complicated sounds representative of those in real
life—"machine-like beeps" that overlap in frequency and time—to re-create a
busy sound environment and obtain new insights into how the brain solves this
Ten groups of eight to 10 volunteers (male and female, ages
19–47) with normal hearing and no history of audiological or neurological
disorders identified target sounds in a noisy background in a series of 10
experiments. Participants could detect complex target sounds from the
background noise, even when the target sounds were delivered at a faster rate
or there was a loud, disruptive noise between them.
Previous models based on simple tones suggest that people
differentiate sounds based on differences in frequency, or pitch. The study
shows that time is also an important factor, with sounds grouped as belonging
to one object by virtue of being correlated in time. These findings provide
insight into a fundamental brain mechanism for detecting sound patterns, and
identify a process that can go wrong in hearing disorders. The results may lead
to better tests for disorders that affect the ability to hear sounds in noisy