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Conversations With Families About Recovery of Social and Communication Skills

ASHA surveyed members in June 2021 to gather information about how educational audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) planned to address effects of remote services on student’s skills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The web survey, which was posted on a variety of ASHA Online Communities, was completed by 473 practitioners from early intervention, private practice, and school settings across all states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. The findings from the survey highlighted

  • the different recovery plans and strategies that school districts and states implemented to address learning and communication losses;
  • terminology used to describe communication loss; and
  • the overall impact of communication loss on workload and caseload management.

For more information about survey results, go to Member Responses and ASHA Resources Related to Loss of Communication Skills During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The information from this survey assisted with the development of ASHA resources for practitioners and families to support recoupment of social and communication skills.

As students transitioned from virtual or hybrid learning during the 2020–2021 school year to in-person learning during the 2021–2022 school year, families may have questions about how their students’ social and communication skills were affected by pandemic-related changes to instruction and service delivery. Families may share information and concerns with professionals about changes during the pandemic. Below are some guiding topics that educational audiologists and SLPs can use to discuss changes made to service delivery from the beginning of the pandemic to the present. Given the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, there may be changes in your school district that necessitate ongoing conversations about recovery of skills.

Remote or Hybrid Learning

  • Discuss any changes made to the individualized education program (IEP) or service delivery plan. Address modifications to goals and objectives of audiology and speech-language service delivery. Compare progress toward meeting goals and objectives with any changes to service delivery and/or goals and objectives.
  • Describe specific data points that were used and what the data indicated about progress, lack of progress, maintenance of skills, or regression in skills.
  • Assess use of additional technology for both the speaker/teacher and deaf/hard of hearing (D/HoH) students to ensure effective communication modalities.

In-Person Learning

  • Discuss changes made to the IEP or service delivery plan since the student returned to in-person learning.
  • Identify any revisions to goals and objectives of audiology and speech-language service delivery. Discuss ways that progress toward meeting goals and objectives is currently being measured.
  • Describe specific data points that are being used and what the data indicate about progress, lack of progress, maintenance of skills, or regression in skills.
  • The use of masks and social distancing poses challenges for D/HoH students in terms of their ability to use visual cues during classroom instruction. Classroom audio distribution systems (CADs) may be beneficial for some classrooms, enabling them to provide an enhanced speech signal for students.

After sharing information with families about the specific changes made to audiology and speech-language service delivery from the beginning of the pandemic to the present, educational audiologists and SLPs may wish to review Pandemic Related Social and Communication Challenges: How Audiologists and SLPs Can Help with In-Person Learning. Information in this resource may assist with addressing critical issues related to recovery of social and communication skills.

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