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Better Hearing and Speech Month

You know that moment when you try to say something and you just...can't? The word or phrase is lost to you, maybe you get your words out of order. Or maybe you stumble over your words so badly that no one understands you. You're embarrassed. But you get over it pretty quickly and go about your day.

What about the moment when you're out with friends and you don't realize anyone is talking to you? Someone lightly touches your shoulder and you almost jump out of your skin. Or the content of the conversation is completely lost to you, even though you know your friends are shouting.

What if, for you, those passing moments didn't pass? What if you struggled with a communication disorder and one of the things you take most for granted seemed like it was always out of your reach? What if you couldn't tell anyone what you needed to tell them, or if you couldn't understand body language or tone of voice? What if you were a child, lost in the classroom, because you couldn't hear directions to follow them?

And how do you know if a loved one has a speech or hearing disorder? Identify the signs.

Signs of speech-language disorders in children:

  • Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
  • Does not babble (4-7 months)
  • Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
  • Does not understand what others say (7 months-2 years)
  • Says only a few words (12-18 months)
  • Words are not easily understood (18 months-2 years)
  • Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5-3 years)
  • Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2-3 years)
  • Has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2.5-3 years)
  • Says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words (1-2 years)
  • Says k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words (2-3 years)
  • Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2-3 years)
  • Struggles to say sounds or words (2.5-3 years)
  • Repeats first sounds of words ”b-b-b-ball” for “ball” (2.5-3 years)
  • Pauses a lot while talking (2.5-3 years)
  • Stretches sounds out ”f-f-f-f-farm” for “farm” (2.5-3 years)
  • Uses a hoarse or breathy voice
  • Uses a nasal-sounding voice
  • Signs of a hearing loss in children:

  • Lack of attention to sounds (birth-1 year)
  • Does not respond when you call his/her name (7 months-1 year)
  • Does not follow simple directions (1-2 years)
  • Shows delays in speech and language development (birth-3 years)
  • Pulls or scratches at his/her ears
  • Difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math
  • Socially isolated and unhappy in school
  • Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)
  • Signs of speech and language disorders in adults:

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (stuttering)
  • Repetition of words or parts of words (stuttering)
  • Speaks in short, fragmented phrases (expressive aphasia)
  • Says words in the wrong order (expressive aphasia)
  • Struggles with using words and understanding others (global aphasia)
  • Difficulty imitating speech sounds (apraxia)
  • Inconsistent errors (apraxia)
  • Slow rate of speech (apraxia)
  • Slurred speech (dysarthria)
  • Slow or rapid rate of speech, often with a mumbling quality (dysarthria)
  • Signs of hearing loss in adults:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Buzzing or ringing in their ears
  • Failure to respond to spoken words
  • Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)
  • Muffled hearing
  • Constant frustration hearing speech and other sounds
  • Avoids conversation
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • If you know someone who shows signs of hearing loss or a speech-language disorder, please encourage them to speak to a professional. Your family doctor can refer you to the appropriate professional, or you can visit the American Speech-Language Hearing Association's website to find a licensed professional.