April 2018 Enid News & Eagle
Newborn hearing screenings had not been implemented in the hospital when audiologist Dr. Kim Tinius’ son was born. “If we had known in 2000 (after his birth) that he had hearing loss, we would have been further along, and he may have not missed as much,” she said. Tinius’ son got a hearing test at age 3. “My passion for audiology, because my son has a hearing loss, that’s why I’m in the profession, it’s a big deal to me because if you don’t get in and get tested, you may go years without hearing. Giving you access to engage into society, that’s a huge thing. I mean, can you imagine not hearing? I can’t imagine that,” she said.
With May being Better Hearing and Speech Month, Tinius and others at Hedges Regional Speech and Hearing want to raise awareness. “I feel it’s important because of my personal experiences with my son, with the world of speech and hearing. Both those two go hand in hand and they are critical for success for him,” Tinius said. “I support (the month) because of what I have had personally with my child. Giving him access to speech and hearing is huge.”
Speech-Language Pathologist Emily Buller said the month brings awareness to the community.
“For people to be aware how their kids are speaking, and if they notice any problems, that we are available to help with those things through evaluation or consultation,” she said. ‘It’s important to protect our hearing’
Tinius is focused on hearing conservation. “I don’t want to have to fit people (with hearing aids) if we can conserve the hearing,” she said. “It’s important to protect our hearing.” Hearing protection is important near gunfire, machinery or concerts, Tinius said. “Making sure they turn down their music when they’re listening to it on their listening devices,” she said. “I’m seeing a greater increase of kiddos coming in from noise-induced hearing loss due to iPads, iPods ... music. They’re wearing their headphones and it’s just too loud.” Tinius recommends noise-limiting headphones.
Some experience hearing loss because of disease, trauma or genetics, she said. “I fit hearing aids, and I brought in cochlear implants,” Tinius said. “That stuff is happening in Enid, America.” Hearing aids now have access to streaming from phones, she said. “Music can go right into your hearing aids,” Tinius said. “Televisions can go right into the hearing aids, so that you don’t have to crank up the television. “It’s amazing technology that’s happening right now.”
Tinius encourages hearing conservation and shares options for those with hearing loss with area social groups, nursing homes and Senior Life. She also does diagnostic hearing evaluations.
“Diagnostic is a big deal, as opposed to just a screening. I identify the hearing loss, I tell them what type of hearing loss they have. Those are things I can do as an audiologist. I fit hearing aids and I fit cochlear implants here,” she said, adding she also does all the repairs and followup.
“(Tinius is) a gift to this community, in all this area of the state,” said Marilyn Beeby, a former Hedges speech pathologist. “(She’s) the only Ph.D. audiologist in Northwest Oklahoma.”
A speech-language pathologist works with several different types of disorders: articulation, language, voice, stuttering, augmentative/alternative communication, swallowing disorders, pragmatics and overall communication, Buller said. “We give the tools (and) ideas to help individuals functionally communicate with family and friends to express wants, needs and ideas,” she said. Those with articulation delays receive help with the placement of a sound so that conversational speech becomes more intelligible, she said.
Other examples of the assistance provided include working on language skills, appropriately using words to make grammatically correct sentences, answering questions and being able to follow two to three part directions; providing those who are nonverbal or have limited speech with a communication board, a communication book or a digital device to help them make choices, answer questions and express wants and needs; and providing strategies to those who stutter to help them talk in public and with family and peers, Buller said.
Along with tactile and visual cues, there is signing and augmentative communication, Speech-Language Pathologist Charlene Wichert said. “Even though a child doesn’t talk, there are many different ways. Even if they won’t verbally say something, we can get them to communicate their wants and needs and they still have that power of communication,” she said.
Speech-language pathologists can work in different locations, including hospitals, schools, centres and in nursing homes, Wichert said. Hedges Regional Speech and Hearing offers speech therapy through play in a sensory room, for clients with autism or sensory spectrum disorders, Speech-Language Pathologist Darci Dennis said. There also are observation rooms available for parents to observe and hear their children during therapy, she noted. “We, as speech pathologists, have criteria as to how we pick up children,” Wichert said. Some sounds do not emerge until a child is 8 years old, she said. “Parents are always saying ‘my kids can’t say r.’ Well, we usually don’t pick them up till later on in elementary school, like second grade, usually. Age 8 or second grade,” Wichert said. Some of the sounds a child may be saying in error may be age appropriate and they may need to be given time to mature, she said. She frequently is asked if it is normal for a 2-year-old child to say only one word.
“I often tell parents that usually children use one word at 1 year, put two words together at 2 years, and so on. I also add that every child is different — some may wait to talk, and others may feel like they have been talking since the day they were born,” Buller said. She suggests parents help with language development by expanding on a child’s word. “For example, if your child says ‘plane,’ expand the utterance so that they hear what an adult utterance sounds like: ‘The plane is flying,’” she said. “I also suggest that parents look at books with their children, no matter what age, that way they are hearing a lot of different vocabulary. Chores around the house can also be good for vocabulary building, for example, sorting clothes by colours. Parents are able to talk about colours, types of clothes as well as anything on the clothes.”