May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

In Communication, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, News, Pediatric Hearing Loss, Research by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

The spring brings along fresh hope for new growth, and one way you can better yourself is by celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month! Each year the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) sets aside the month of May to honor the possibility of improving speech and hearing ability. Technology and medical developments have made leaps and bounds in the new ways that you can support your communication ability.

As well as designating the month of May as Better Hearing and Speech Month, ASHA also chooses a particular theme. This year’s title is “Communicating Across the Lifespan.” This holistic approach to speech and hearing betterment brings together all the diverse ways that communication can face obstacles.

Challenges with Communication

Perhaps when you think of hearing loss your first association is the aging population. Indeed, the most common form of hearing loss faces those who have faced a lifetime of exposure to sound. The tiny hairs inside the ear canal are sensitive to sound, making it possible to decipher subtle differences in speech. Yet, this sensitivity also leaves them vulnerable to damage. The lifetime of listening can result in reduced hearing ability as a person ages, resulting in the common form of hearing loss we witness among many seniors. Along with hearing loss comes the struggle to communicate in face-to-face settings. Conversations are a two-way street of listening and responding with speech, so many communication disorders face our seniors.

Yet, communication disorders are not only common among seniors. Young people and even infants can have communication disorders, as well, and it is of crucial importance to diagnose these disorders as soon as possible in order to begin treatment at an early age. Communication disorders come in three general forms. Language disorders are complex challenges in the process of cognition. Although individuals with language disorders can hear and speak clearly, they have breaks in the cognitive chain from language to understanding the meaning of words and phrases. Language disorders can be detected in infants, toddlers, and young children. If an infant does not seem to respond to others with smiles or recognition or does not babble syllables, a language disorder may occur down the road. At the time of spoken communication, a language disorder may manifest in a limited vocabulary or trouble communicating with children of the same age.

A second form of communication disorder is located in the speech process. Although children with speech disorders can hear others, they have trouble putting their own thoughts into clear words. Some warning signs include the inability to pronounce the letters p, b, m, h, and w among very young children. As children grow, speech disorders can show up in taking a longer time to pronounce a word, including children who say the first phoneme of a word several times before pronouncing the word in its entirety. When children have speech disorders, specialists at school can assist in the development of verbal language skills.

Hearing Loss in Children

In addition to these forms of childhood communication disorders, hearing loss can contribute, as well. Infants and children with hearing loss may not respond to sounds in the room by moving their eyes or heads in the direction of the sound source. As well, they may not respond to their own name or may struggle to communicate in social and educational settings. If you sense that a communication disorder may take place in your child or another child you know, the best place to start is a hearing exam.

South Shore Hearing Center

At South Shore Hearing Center, we offer pediatric audiological services to diagnose any hearing problems your child may face. We can make the audiogram totally painless, easy, and even fun for your child, resulting in a thorough diagnosis of the contexts and environments in which hearing may be compromised.

The first step is to contact our office to make an appointment, and we will do the rest. A full consultation will be necessary to understand why you think your child may have a communication disorder, and we will engage directly with your child to identify the source of the obstacles. With this month devoted to Better Hearing and Speech Month, why not take the opportunity to make sure your child’s hearing is the best it can be?