Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NSSLHA Meeting Minutes May 4th, 2009

NSSLHA Meeting 5/4/2009
Speaker: Debbie Schram
- Announcement: Work for Hallmark Rehabiliation for one year after you graduate, and they will pay for your tuition or student loan. You can visit their website for more information at

- She has been in recovery since July of 2007
- She progressed into state where she couldn’t communicate with anyone. She didn’t know what was going on.
- She struggled to find the words to use to say “I had a stroke.”
- Has left hemisphere brain tumor
- Gave her 4 months to live.
- She was given signs on paper so she could point to yes, no, right left.
- She had speech therapist that came to her house. She had worksheets for filling out phrases, prepositional phrases, sequencing steps.
- The speech therapy was helpful.
- Her and the speech therapist would have conversations.
- At 18th month, there was a period of spontaneous recovery- she was able to communicate much better.
- She would use content words and leave out all of the function words. At 18 months, she could use more function words so people could understand what she meant.
- Her comprehension is good.
- She participated in a cancer retreat. She was overwhelmed. She was aware of everything that was going on, but she couldn’t understand what was wrong with her and why she couldn’t communicate.
- She could write, but she couldn’t speak.
- She thinks others perceived her to be retarded, incompetent.
- Using gestures, the computer, facial expressions, yes or no questions work well for her.
- She has trouble finding specific words.
- Pictures work well, flashcards that have a picture on one side and word on the other are also helpful.
- DMV, police don’t understand what aphasia is. Using a card that explains her situation helps.
- One thing SLPs can do to help people with aphasia is help the families understand what the impairments are and what they aren’t, what the patient’s strengths and weaknesses are.
- Debbie is in a rehabiliation program at Coastline College for people with brain injuries. Debbie is in the language class. All of her classmates have good comprehension, but poor speaking abilities.
- Her sister, Marilyn, uses various strategies to communicate with Debbie – she can point to an option of 2 things, waiting for a response, not talking too much, not guessing/anticipating what Debbie is going to say, and to not push Debbie to talk.
- Writing is easier for her than speaking. Sometimes the same mistake comes out in the writing as it does in speaking.
- She is good at reading out loud. It is a little hard to pronounce some words.

NSSLHA Meeting Minutes April 13th, 2009

NSSLHA Meeting 4/13/2009
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Topic: AUTISM Speaker: Gwendolyn Meier
- Autism is a spectrum disorder (classic autism -→ high functioning autism -→ Asperger Syndrome)
- A behaviorally defined condition
- Neurological disorder
- Severe impairments in: socialization, communication, behavior and interests
- Need 6 symptoms from 3 categories in the Diagnostic Criteria (DSM-IV): Social interaction (2 symptoms), Communication (1), Restricted, Repetitive, & Stereotyped Behavior & Interests (1)
- Diagnosis usually happens at Regional Centers
- Kids with autism don’t play with toys in the way typical children do: they focus on a specific part of a toy, employ self-stimulatory behaviors
- Idiosyncratic use of language
- Need very structured, concrete activities
- If something unexpected happens in their schedule, they may have a tantrum
- Many will self-stimulate: touch, visual
- Core deficits in Autism: what areas you think are core deficits will determine what you treat in therapy
1.) Joint Attention – poor response to name, lack of showing and sharing; if child doesn’t follow where his/her parent is pointing to, child won’t learn what the referent is.
2.) Symbolic Skills- coming up with the concept for the language referent; symbolic skills are apparent in language and play
- Estimates of incidence of Autism has changed a lot in recent years → could be due to population growth, data collection, investigators, change of diagnostic criteria, migration to CA, change in categorization
- Estimates of incidence of Autism are: 1 in 150 (Autism Speaks, 2009)
4-5/10,000 (prior to 1985)
- Etiology and Suspect Factors: genetic link, comorbid medical issues (GI concerns, sleep problems, allergies/infections), NOT caused by parenting, multifactorial cause
- Possible Triggers: Exposure (in utero, after birth, toxins), immunologic, metabolic, MMR vaccine debate (jury is still out)
- Evolution of Treatment: 40’s and 50’s: removal from home, 60’s and 70’s: behavioral teaching/operant conditioning, controlled settings (food deprivation, aversives, poor generalization), 80’s 90’s and 00’s: “naturalistic” behavioral approaches, natural reinforcers, daily settings, motivation, self-initiation, connection between communication and problem behavior, amount and type of stimulation (debate)
- No definitive evidence for any one treatment approach over another
- SLP Assessment: standardized measures look at language FORM and elicited responses, primary deficits lie in pragmatic USE of language/FUNCTIONS, initiation, and rate of communication, few resources aid us in evaluating pre-intentional, pre-verbal, and nonverbal communication
- Visual schedules: organizes the child’s day, establish routines, predictability, expectations
- Aided language stimulation/visually cued instruction: make language input visual and intransient, provides language model
- PECS: provides means to make requests
- For more information, visit