‘Identify the Signs’ Campaign Promotes Awareness of Communication Disorders

hearing and speech month

With 8-9 percent of young children suffering from speech disorders, May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month is the perfect time for parents to learn how to recognize the early signs of these disorders. The Speech, Language, Hearing Center at the State University of New York at New Paltz is encouraging parents to educate themselves through the Identify the Signs campaign, a national effort of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The campaign is designed to combat an overall lack of awareness about communication disorders—a major barrier to treatment for the more than 40 million total Americans who are affected.

Speech, language, and hearing disorders are among the most common disabilities in the United States. However, unlike many other disabilities, these disorders often are reversible and even preventable with early intervention. Unfortunately, many parents do not recognize the first signs of these disorders. In young children, early treatment can help prevent them from falling behind academically, socially, and in other key areas at a critical time in their development.

Certified speech-language pathologists see the benefits of early intervention every day. Unfortunately, the consequences of waiting too long to seek treatment are also seen and this is one of the reasons that education and early identification are being promoted. This is the idea behind the American Speech and Hearing Association’s Identify the Signs campaign.

While it is certainly never too late to seek help, treatment is most successful, less expensive, and most effective when a parent or loved one is able to recognize the earliest signs of these disorders. MAY IS BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH, and this is the perfect time for caregivers to familiarize themselves with these signs at ASHA’s IdentifytheSigns.org website. Caregivers should also seek information or an assessment from a certified speech-language pathologist if they have any questions

Identify the Signs of Communication Disorders

In children, parents should watch for the following signs of speech, language and hearing disorders:

Does not interact socially (infancy and older)

  • Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)
  • Says only a few sounds or words or makes only a few gestures (18 months to 2 years)
  • Says words that are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)
  • Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)
  • Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)
  • Does not seem to hear what you are saying
  • Frequently asks “what”?

In adults, signs of speech and language disorders include:

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (stuttering)
  • Repeats words or parts of words (stuttering)
  • Says words in the wrong order (expressive aphasia)
  • Struggles with using words and understanding others (global aphasia)
  • Has difficulty imitating speech sounds (apraxia)
  • Speaks at a slow rate (apraxia)
  • Produces slurred speech (dysarthria)

For more signs, treatment information, and other resources, visit http://identifythesigns.org.

For more information regarding speech and hearing, please contact Department of Communication Disorders Chair Wendy Bower  (bowerw@newpaltz.edu). To schedule an appointment for a speech or hearing assessment, please contact the department secretary at (845) 257-3600.

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