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In Search of Evidence in the Era of Social Media Misinformation

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Social media forums have long been subject to a variety of criticism related to trustworthiness, reliability, and commercialization of content. However, in recent years the spread of misinformation has been steadily increasing in disproportionate amounts as compared to the objective consumption of evidence. Facebook, for example, has long been criticized, for the ease with which its members can actively promote and rampantly encourage the spread of misinformation on its platform.

To illustrate, one study found that “from August 2020 to January 2021, misinformation got six times more clicks on Facebook than posts containing factual news. Misinformation also accounted for the vast majority of engagement with far-right posts — 68% — compared to 36% of posts coming from the far-left.” Facebook has even admitted in the past that its platform is actually hardwired for misinformation. Nowhere is it easier to spread misinformation than in Facebook groups. In contrast to someone’s personal account, a dubious claim made even in a relatively small group has a far wider audience than a claim made from one’s personal account. In the words of Nina Jankowicz, the disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, “Facebook groups are ripe targets for bad actors, for people who want to spread misleading, wrong or dangerous information.

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Dear SLPs, Don’t Base Your Language Intervention on Subtests Results

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For years, I have been seeing a variation of the following questions from SLPs on social media on a weekly if not daily basis:

  • “My student has slow processing/working memory and did poorly on the (insert standardized test here), what goals should I target?”
  • “Do you have sample language/literacy goals for students who have the following subtest scores on the (insert standardized test here)?”
  • “What goals should I create for my student who has the following subtest scores on the (insert standardized test here)?”

Let me be frank, these questions show a fundamental lack of understanding regarding the purpose of standardized tests, the knowledge of developmental norms for students of various ages, as well as how to effectively tailor and prioritize language intervention to the students’ needs.

So today, I wanted to address this subject from an evidence-based lens in order to assist SLPs with effective intervention planning with the consideration of testing results but not actually based on subtest results. So what do I mean by this seemingly confusing statement? Before I begin let us briefly discuss several highly common standardized assessment subtests:

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Free Literacy Assessment Resources for SLPs

A few years ago I wrote a post, which offered a compilation of FREE literacy resources for parents and professionals. Today I would like to expand upon my previous article by providing professionals with a compilation of free literacy assessment tools.

Assessment tools tend to be expensive. Few professionals have unlimited budgets to purchase the myriad of tests needed to appropriately assess a host of skills associated with reading, spelling, and writing. Below is a list of helpful free materials to assist SLPs on tight budgets testing children with suspected reading, spelling, and writing deficits.

First, let us briefly review a few essential components involved in skilled reading, which are:

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Quality Assessments for Students with Suspected/Confirmed “APD”

Recently I wrote a blog post offering a free handout for parents and professionals entitled, “Deconstructing Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) for Parents and Professionals: Informational Handout“. While it was incredibly well-received, it resulted in numerous professionals asking the same questions:

  1. How do we help students with “APD?
  2. What constitutes a good quality assessment for a student with “APD”?

Today I would like to answer the above questions by providing further helpful information and links for parents and professionals seeking evidence-based assistance for students with suspected/confirmed “APD”.

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Deconstructing Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) for Parents and Professionals: Informational Handout

The diagnosis of auditory processing disorder (APD) has long been steeped in significant controversy. I have been writing about the serious issues surrounding it for a number of years. Today I am expanding upon the posts I wrote in the past on this subject by adding a link to a handout for parents and professionals succinctly summarizing the current controversies relevant to APD in a 2-page handout. You can download it from my online store for FREE, HERE

What are some key takeaway points from that handout?

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a condition that is often characterized by difficulty processing orally presented information. Reported symptoms include but are not limited to, the increased processing time to respond to questions, requests for frequent repetition of information, difficulty following directions and attending to speech, difficulty keeping up with class discussions, difficulty listening in noisy environments, difficulty maintaining attention on presented tasks,  difficulty remembering instructions and directions or verbally presented information, as well as poor/weak phonemic awareness, reading, spelling, and writing abilities affecting the student’s social and academic performance. Frequent recommendations for the above difficulties include referral to an audiologist once the student is typically 6-7 years of age in order to undergo auditory processing testing.

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The Science of Reading Literacy Certificate for SLPs: FAQs

In August 2021, the CEU Smart Hub (Powered by the Lavi Institute) has launched a new certificate program: The Science of Reading (SOR) Literacy Certificate for SLPs.  Because of the multitude of questions we have received in advance of the certificate rollout (Financial Disclosure: I am a 50% partner in the CEU Smart Hub/Power Up Conferences), I am writing this post today in an attempt to answer some of the commonly asked questions regarding this certification.

Who is the certificate for? The certificate is open to SLPs who are interested in gaining in-depth knowledge in the areas of assessment and treatment of children with language and literacy disorders. This certification offers not just continuing education hours in the advanced practices pertaining to the assessment and treatment of literacy but also a final examination and 2 lengthy in-depth projects requiring professionals to appropriately and comprehensively design assessment plans and treatment goals to work with literacy impaired clients. Continue reading The Science of Reading Literacy Certificate for SLPs: FAQs

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Review of Wordtivities by SPELL-Links

Image result for wordtivities"Today I am reviewing a newly released (2019) kit (instructional guide and cards) from the Learning By Design, Inc. entitled Wordtivities: Word Study Instruction for Spelling, Vocabulary, and Reading.

The 101-page instructional guide was created to address the students’ phonological awareness, spelling, reading, vocabulary, and syntax skills by having them engage with sounds, letters, and meanings of words. The lessons in the book can be used by a variety of instructional personnel (teachers, SLPs, reading specialists, etc.) and even parents as a stand-alone word study program or in conjunction with SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing Word Study Curriculum.

The activity book is divided into two sections. The first section offers K-12 student activities for large groups and classrooms. The second section has picture card activities and is intended for 1:1 and small group instruction. Both sections focus on reinforcing 14 SPELL-Links strategies for reading and spelling to stimulate the associations between sounds, letters, and meanings of words. Continue reading Review of Wordtivities by SPELL-Links

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Comprehending Reading Comprehension

Image of three books open on a table with stacks of books in the background.How many parents and professionals have experienced the following scenario? The child in question is reading very fluently (Landi & Ryherd, 2017) but comprehending very little of what s/he is reading.  Attempts at remediation follow (oftentimes without the administration of a comprehensive assessment) with a focus on reading texts and answering text-related questions. However, much to everyone’s dismay the problem persists and worsens over time. The child’s mental health suffers as a result since numerous studies show that reading deficits including dyslexia are associated with depression, anxiety, attention, as well as behavioral problems (Arnold et al., 2005; Knivsberg & Andreassen, 2008; Huc-Chabrolle, et al, 2010; Kempe, Gustafson, & Samuelsson, 2011Boyes, et al, 2016;   Livingston et al, 2018). Continue reading Comprehending Reading Comprehension

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On the Value of Social Pragmatic Interventions via Video Analysis

As a speech-language pathologist (SLP) working in a psychiatric setting, I routinely address social pragmatic language goals as part of my clinical practice. Finding the right approach to the treatment of social pragmatic language disorders has been challenging to say the least. That is because the efficacy of social communication interventions continues to be quite limited. Studies to date continue to show questionable results and limited carryover, while measurements of improvement are frequently subjective, biased, and subject to a placebo effect, maturation effect, and regression to the mean. However, despite the significant challenges to clinical practice in this area, the usage of videos for treatment purposes shows an emergent promise. Continue reading On the Value of Social Pragmatic Interventions via Video Analysis

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Test Review: (OPUS) Oral Passage Understanding Scale

Today I am reviewing a listening comprehension assessment for students 5-21 years of age, entitled the Oral Passage Understanding Scale (OPUS) created by Elizabeth Carrow-Woolfolk, PhD, and Amber M. Klein, PhD, which is available via WPS.

The OPUS is a test of listening comprehension which assesses the following forms of knowledge: lexical/semantic (knowledge and use of words and word combinations), syntactic (knowledge and use of grammar, as well as supralinguistic (knowledge and use of indirect/complex language). Continue reading Test Review: (OPUS) Oral Passage Understanding Scale