Although more than 5 million children in the United States have speech, language and hearing disorders, parents are often uninformed and unsure what to do when they suspect their child may have a communication disorder.
In conjunction with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) “Better Hearing and Speech Month,” SwedishAmerican’s Pediatric Therapy Services Department is providing information to help ensure communication disorders do not seriously affect a child’s ability to learn, socialize and be successful in school.
Parents who are concerned their child may have a speech, language or hearing problem can call (815) 489-4470 for more information. Alternately, they can visit SwedishAmerican Pediatric Therapy Services at 209 Ninth St., Suite 302.
Parents who suspect their child has a communication disorder should see a certified speech-language pathologist. These professionals identify, assess and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.
“Fortunately, most children with speech, language and hearing problems can be helped,” said SwedishAmerican Speech Therapy Supervisor Tricia Sawyer. “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.”
Communication disorders, like hearing loss in children, can occur at birth or as a child grows older as a result of chronic ear infections or exposure to noise. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious the effects on their development.
ASHA recommends children at risk, such as those who suffer from chronic ear infections or in cases where there is a family history of hearing loss, be screened by a certified audiologist as frequently as needed to ensure they are hearing well. For children ages 5-18, hearing screenings should occur on initial entry into school and annually in kindergarten through third grade, as well as in the seventh and 11th grades.
From the July 18-24, 2012, issue