The American Association of Speech-language and Hearing Association (ASHA) released a video by our president in recognition of May being Better Hearing and Speech Month. She explains well why early intervention is key.
Communication is a Basic Human Right
About 11 percent of Americans have communication disorders. There are signs that may help parents and other caretakers recognize the onset of a communication impairment at very young ages. These signs include:
- A baby not responding to his/her name at 9 months old.
- A toddler not showing an interest in interacting with others.
- A child being difficult to understand.
- Difficulty expressing wants and needs.
- Not responding to sounds in the environment.
- And more (included in the video above)
Parents and caregivers are in a position to make a big difference in a child's life. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists truly believe that communication is a basic human right for each individual. If we are able to give early intervention to a child in need of help communicating, this often translates to less time in therapy, less money spent on getting help, a team approach, and benefits to every area of the child's and family's life.
I have to share a personal experience in the blog post that I experienced this week. It was a proud SLP mommy moment. My 6-year-old son, whom I've been giving articulation therapy to for two years now (with my older son helping me work on carryover in our home and school environments), rode home in the car from school with me the other day and independently started talking with clear speech. I didn't have to remind him or give him any cues. I heard him the next day talking to his grandmother without his speech impairment. HE HAD GENERALIZED!!! He carried over the speech he uses with his SLP mommy during our sessions to use independently in different situations. He made me so proud. We had been working on his goal as a team for a long time. It made me relieved knowing that as he transitions from Kindergarten to first grade, he will hopefully understand sounds and phonics better which will result in increased skill with reading and understanding in all subjects.
Not everyone realizes that speech articulation (how we say our sounds) affects how children understand sound to symbol relationships and later on literacy. But that's another topic for another day. My point is that my son is now positioned well to learn what he needs to in school as they start working more on literacy.
There are many examples of how early intervention helps individuals avoid a lifetime of difficulty in school, work, and social lives. If you are questioning whether your child has a communication impairment or not, it is the best investment in their future to have them evaluated by a speech-language pathologist NOW instead of the "wait and see" approach.
Lauren Tandy, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in pediatric and school-aged intervention in the areas of speech-language development and feeding/swallowing disorders (dysphagia). She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.