ASHA Annual Convention Will Showcase Latest Research, Clinical Advances in Communication Sciences and Disorders

More than 14,000 Professionals Expected in Orlando to Present, Learn Most Current Advances To Treat Children and Adults With Speech, Language, Swallowing, Hearing, and Related Disorders

November 20, 2019

(Rockville, MD) The latest research and clinical developments for diagnosing and treating communication disorders, which are among the most common conditions that children and adults in the United States experience, will be presented November 21–23, 2019, at the annual convention of the  American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 

Encompassing speech, language, social communication, swallowing, hearing, and related conditions, the presentations will be made by national and international experts in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. Convention sessions will include the following topics:

  • Gestures in children with autism
  • Parent–child reading and academic achievement in third grade
  • Auditory brainstem implants in a Los Angeles clinical trial
  • Toys versus iPads in children with speech and language disorders
  • Disproportionality of African American student enrollment in the IDEA category of “Speech or Language Impaired” (S/LI)
  • Vaping’s influence on voice, pulmonary, and vascular functions
  • Cognitive advantage in children who speak African American English

See subsequent text for further details on each of the above topics:

Try Your Hand: What Gestures Do Toddlers With Autism Use in Everyday Activities at Home?

Children’s gesture inventories, measured in the second year of life, have been found to predict language development 2 years later. Young children with autism spectrum disorder have been observed to display a restricted inventory of gestures and to use gestures at a reduced rate. (Examples of gestures include pointing, giving, showing, nodding, and shrugging as if to say, “I don’t know.”) Researchers have not yet used behavioral observation to measure the gestures that toddlers with and without autism use in the home environment, although many very young children at risk for autism and communication delays may not receive a clinic evaluation. This study examined the gesture use in a large sample of 211 twenty-month-old toddlers with autism (n = 121), developmental delays (n = 46), and typical development (n = 44) who participated in an hour-long, video-recorded home observation. Researchers observed that early gesture inventories have large correlations with expressive and receptive language and autism symptoms at age 3, underscoring the potential utility of measuring gestures at home as part of early communication screenings and evaluations. 

Parent–Child Book Reading Impacts Academic Achievement in Grade 3

Supporting children to develop a strong literacy foundation begins with book reading during infancy. Literacy difficulties are a public concern due to the long-term implications for quality of life, employment, and mental health. The importance of setting children up for success with mastering literacy has been recognized throughout the world; however, further evidence with a larger sample size on the long-term benefits of book reading during infancy was needed. Researchers from Charles Sturt University examined data from 3,547 babies and their caregivers from a nationally representative study to consider the long-term impact of the duration of book reading at age 1–2 years with literacy, language, and numeracy skills on a national assessment program. The researchers found small, positive relationships between book reading at age 1–2 years and reading, language, and numeracy scores in Grade 3, even after controlling for socioeconomic status and children’s intelligence. Children who were read to for more than 11 minutes per day had stronger reading, language, and numeracy skills in Grade 3 compared with children who were read to for 10 minutes or less per day. This study provides evidence, from a relatively large longitudinal sample, that the duration of book reading during the first 2 years of life impacts academic achievement. The researchers encourage families to read with their 1- to 2-year-olds for more than 11 minutes per day to set their children up for literary and numeracy success.

Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABIs)—Outcomes and Observations From a Los Angeles Pediatric Clinical Trial

Cochlear implants (CIs) are often an option for children born with severe to profound hearing loss, but if the child is born with absent or severely damaged cochleae or cochlear nerves, an auditory brainstem implant (ABI) may be the only prosthesis option. An ABI bypasses missing or severely damaged organs to stimulate the auditory pathway at the level of the brainstem. Currently, in the United States, ABIs for young children are available primarily under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigative trials. The Los Angeles Pediatric ABI team is conducting an FDA-approved safety and feasibility study of ABIs in children implanted at 2–5 years of age. This session highlights ABI technology, the study protocol, clinical outcomes, and observations documented by the Los Angeles Pediatric ABI team. As part of the study, 10 children underwent candidacy evaluation; six children were deemed candidates and were surgically implanted with an ABI. Three children within the first 5 years of ABI use demonstrated the ability to rely on hearing to select the correct picture from a small set of choices when the object names differed by syllable number. For example, if asked to point to “shoe” from the choices “popcorn, shoe, ice cream cone” the children selected “shoe.” One child demonstrated some word identification skills on standardized speech perception measures. Skill levels and rate of growth varied substantially. It is important to recognize that gains are slower and more limited with an ABI than with a CI. Visual communication remains vital, the presenters note.

Toys Versus iPads: Language Output in 4- to 6-Year-Old Children with Speech and Language Disorders

This study explored the effects of iPads compared with traditional toys on the quantity and quality of language output in three preschooler populations: typically developing, diagnosed with a speech sound disorder, and diagnosed with a language disorder. For typically developing children and children with speech sound disorders, playing with traditional toys yielded more complex language than did playing with iPad applications. For children with a language disorder, no significant differences were found. This study addresses concerns regarding language development in a world where traditional toys are being replaced by iPads and other screen time technology. These data will educate future and practicing speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in the area of language development—and SLPs can use these findings to educate families on how to create a language-rich environment at home. 

A Decade of Disproportionality: African American Students Categorized Under Speech or Language Impairment

This is the first study to explicitly focus on the disproportionality of African American student enrollment in the primary IDEA category of “Speech or Language Impaired” (S/LI). Researchers analyzed U.S. Department of Education public school enrollment data from 2004 through 2014 and found that African American students were predominately underrepresented in the category of S/LI in more than two-thirds of the states during that time period. These results were interpreted in the context of long-documented overrepresentation of African American students in the primary placements of “Intellectual Disability,” “Emotional Disturbance,” and “Learning Disabilities,” indicating that significant numbers of African American students may have been misclassified into these other categories of special education. The researchers hypothesize that the “fragmented harm” model and the concept of conscious or unconscious categorical manipulation in special education may explain the observed patterns of ethnic disproportionality in special education categories. “DisCrit” theory suggests that disproportionality in special education categories is also related to implicit and explicit racism intertwined with ableism (the belief that people with disabilities are inferior to typically developing people). This presentation will guide participants in critically analyzing and problem-solving in order to increase equitable special education services for African American students.   

Influence of Vaping on Voice, Pulmonary, and Vascular Functions

Vaping is a national phenomenon. More data are needed to better understand its effects. In this study, researchers examined the acute effects of vaping on the vocal, pulmonary, and vascular functions of 12 healthy persons who vape daily versus healthy controls in a repeated cross-sectional measure design. Acoustic analyses did not reveal significant differences between the groups in vocal characteristics (e.g., mean F0, shimmer, harmonic-to-noise ratio, cepstral peak prominence, Cepstral Spectral Index of Dysphonia). However, a significant increase in cycle-to-cycle frequency variation of vocal fold vibration (jitter) was revealed post-vaping. Vaping also evoked a significant increase in mean arterial pressure. Significant reductions were also observed for key pulmonary function measures at rates that are consistent with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Previous studies have shown the negative impact of cigarette smoking on flow-mediated dilation (FMD), an important marker for endothelial dysfunction—a type of nonobstructive coronary artery disease. In this study, researchers evaluated FMD of the brachial artery using Doppler ultrasound between the healthy controls versus the vapers along with the post-vaping measurement. These findings provide additional evidence for the deleterious health effects of vaping and reinforce the need for wiser and healthier clinical, societal, and individualized practices and behaviors. 

Exploring the Cognitive Advantage in Children Who Speak African American English

Past studies suggest that bilingualism may enhance cognition, providing a “cognitive advantage” to bilingual speakers when compared to their monolingual peers. In the current study, researchers explored whether a similar advantage exists in children who are bidialectal. They examined the performance of 87 children in second through fourth grade, who speak African American English (AAE), on an executive functioning (EF) task that targets inhibitory control, working memory, and shifting abilities to explore whether the cognitive advantage found in bilingual and bidialectal populations would be apparent. The results showed significant differences in EF performance based on dialect density. On average, children categorized as having a low density of dialect usage had higher total error scores, extending the literature on the potential EF advantage in bidialectal speakers. As EF can be measured in numerous ways, future research may include exploring this advantage utilizing different tasks.

For more information on any of the presentations, or to arrange an interview, please contact Francine Pierson, ASHA Public Relations Manager, at 301-296-8715 or  fpierson@asha.org

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 204,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.

View all ASHA press releases at  www.asha.org/about/news.


ASHA Corporate Partners