May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and an appropriate time for parents to consider whether their child may be one of the more than 5 million children in the United States with a speech, language, or hearing disorder. Because any communication disorder can seriously impact a child’s ability to learn, socialize and be successful in school, it’s important that it be diagnosed as early as possible.
Problems with speech or language can occur at any time and be caused by accidental injury or illness, or be inherited at birth. Examples include stuttering, problems with articulation (such as saying “wabbit” instead of “rabbit”), language disorders (such as the slow development of vocabulary, concepts and grammar), and voice disorders (including speaking with a nasal, breathy, or hoarse voice or speech that is too high or low).
According to Catherine Gottfred, PhD, speech-language pathologist and former president of the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA), “Fortunately, most children with speech, language, and hearing problems can be helped. Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, we can teach the child strategies to help them cope with their communication disorders, or provide them with the appropriate technology.”
ASHA recommends that children from ages five to 18 be screened when they enter school, once a year in kindergarten through third grade, and again in seventh and eleventh grade. For those at risk of hearing loss, including children with chronic ear infections and in families where there is a history of hearing loss, screening by a certified audiologist should occur as frequently as needed to ensure that they are hearing well.
What are typical signs of hearing loss in children?
- Responding to sounds inconsistently
- A delay in language and speech development
- Unclear speech
- Turning the sound high on electronic equipment such as the radio, TV or CD player
- Failing to follow directions
- Often responding with “Huh?”
- Not replying when called
- Frequently misunderstanding what is being said and asking for things to be repeated
If you suspect that your child may have a problem, speak to his teacher, school nurse or guidance counselor to learn what services your public school may offer. You can also call 800-638-8255 or visit www.asha.org for free information and to locate an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist in your community.
To learn more about issues related to your child’s well-being and education, sign up as a Friend of Public Education and receive occasional newsletters of interest.
*This post is part of a series of sponsored posts by CAPS.