I am in Madrid this week doing workshops with CLAVE and AGBell International. AGBell is working to expand to international areas and Spanish speaking countries came first. I spoke at the Spanish ENT Society on Monday, and yesterday I was at the university speaking to audiology and speech-pathology students as well as professionals and parents. Today and tomorrow I will be at the CLAVE center mentoring and lecturing. Whenever I visit another country I am always interested in how different management of hearing loss is in different parts of the world.
In Spain, speech pathology is a university degree but audiology is not. Audiologists have a two year training program after high school. A lot of audiology is under the auspices of ENT physicians. Some are surgeons, but others are involved in medical management and audiology. Cochlear implant programming is performed by people who work for the manufacturers.
Audiology In Spain
As I always do, I have been talking a lot about developing the auditory brain, developing speech perception skills and how to know if a child is hearing what they need to hear. When I talk about what a child with hearing loss needs to hear people are sometimes surprised to hear how important it is to hear soft speech. About 80% of what young children learn they learn by overhearing. If a child cannot overhear conversation, they will miss a great deal. In order to overhear they need to hear soft speech – 30-35 dBHL. At the workshop yesterday at the university, the mom of a 10 year old asked me if she still needed to hear soft speech. I asked if she was still learning and, of course, she said yes. So, she needs to hear soft speech. The ENT physicians at the ENT society on Monday night were also surprised about the need to hear soft speech.
We have also talked a lot about how much how we need to be sure kids are wearing their technology every waking minute. I keep saying “If a child wears hearing aids 4 hours a day, it will take the child 6 years to hear what a typical hearing child hears in one year.” I think this helps both professionals and parents understand the need to keep technology on full time.
My colleagues here tell me that they have difficulty getting FM’s for children. I have spent a lot of time talking with everyone who will listen about why we need to hear when there is competing noise and how remote microphones can significantly improve this problem. I am hoping that I have changed a few minds here about fitting remote microphones very early and having kids wear them often.
Except for the weather, this has been a lovely trip and I hope to get to return soon.
*Featured image courtesy Auto Europe