Join Orlando’s First Words Speech Therapy in celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month. Founded by the American Speech – Language – Hearing Association to bring awareness about communication disorders hearing health. Encouraging parents to take action if they feel their child may show any signs of delay or missing any milestones.

Communication, speech, language, and hearing disorders often go undetected and untreated for too long. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), these issues are among the most common condition to affect children nationwide. 

“Communication disorders are among the most common childhood disabilities—and they are highly treatable in most cases,” said Elise Davis-McFarland, PhD, CCC-SLP, ASHA 2018 president. “Yet even with all of the information available to today’s parents, our members report they are still seeing children much later than what is optimal for achieving the best outcome.”

It is estimated that 10 percent of children have some type of communication impairment. This includes language learning difficulties, stuttering, and speech production/articulation. These children are 4 to 5 times more likely to experience other language learning disabilities, such as reading and communication, than their peers. 

“We know parents want the best for their children,” McFarland continues, “However, they may hear messages that encourage a ‘wait and see’ approach by suggesting a child may grow out of a communication issue. Unfortunately, this often is not the case. Delaying treatment means children may miss a critical developmental window where they acquire a majority of their foundational speech and language skills, which occurs between birth and 3 years of age. Hearing and listening to language is the primary way young children learn. The skills achieved during this time lay the groundwork for later success with reading and writing, academics, social interactions, and career options and advancement—making early intervention for any speech/language or hearing problem, preferably well before age 3, so important.”

Early intervention can have a big impact on your child’s development. Not only does it improve their ability to communicate, it improves how they interact, social skills, and emotional development. It also provides guidance and support for parents and caregivers. 

“Our take-home message for parents is ‘Don’t delay if you have any question about your child’s ability to hear, speak, or understand’,” said Davis-McFarland. “Some of these disorders can be reversed or even prevented if a child is treated early enough. Parents should familiarize themselves with communication milestones—which are very specific and begin within the first few months of life—as well as the early warning signs of communication disorders, which can be subtle. We encourage them to seek help from an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist if their child isn’t meeting milestones and/or is showing warning signs.”