Better Speech and Hearing Month

Better Speech and Hearing Month
All the Ways We Can Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month Together
All the Ways We Can Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month Together 1000 1000 PTN Chicago

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and we all can do our part to help raise awareness.

Many people don’t know just how common speech, language, and hearing disorders are among children. There also tends to be a misconception that if someone has difficulty speaking or if they are deaf, they must have other physical or mental impairments, which simply isn’t true. By spreading the word about BSHM and sharing both facts and personal stories of how speech, language, and hearing disorders have affected your friends or family, you can help make the world a more informed, understanding, and accepting place.

Here are a few stats that we found interesting courtesy of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Feel free to share these on social media!

  • Almost 8% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have had a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder in the past 12 months.
  • Among children who currently have a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder, about 34% of children aged 3-10 have multiple speech or language disorders. That number drops to 25% for children aged 11-17.
  • The prevalence of speech and language disorders is highest from the ages of 3 to 6 – during those formative years when most children are learning to speak with fluency (almost always with bumps along the road).

And here are some interesting stats about hearing:

  • 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have some degree of hearing loss.
  • Between two and three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with detectable hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.

In addition to outreach on social media, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has put together a great list of ways that you can celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month.

Personally, we love teaching children about communication through – you guessed it! – play. Here are a few simple games that you can enjoy with your children to help them understand what communication is and why it’s so important.

Simon Says – This classic game is wonderful because it can be played virtually anywhere. Driving in the car, in the park, around the dinner table… you name it. By having your children listen carefully and follow instructions, they can practice some of the fundamental elements of strong communication.

The I Love You Game – Ok, I just made this game up, but I think it’s going to catch on. The game is simple – work with your child to come up with all the different ways that you can express love to one another. You might start by saying “I love you” out loud. Then you could give each other hugs. Or maybe kisses on the cheek. Maybe you could express love with a dance or by doing something nice for each other. See how many fun ways you and your little one can come up with to communicate your love for each other. And when you get tired of being lovey-dovey (if that ever happens), try playing the game with other concepts or emotions like happiness, sadness, and surprise.

children and autism
Better Speech and Hearing Month: How Our Therapists Support Children with Autism
Better Speech and Hearing Month: How Our Therapists Support Children with Autism 1000 667 PTN Chicago

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM), and that feels like the perfect time to discuss how our therapists support children with speech and language disorders, particularly children on the autism spectrum.

At Pediatric Therapy Network, our team specializes in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language therapy. Children with autism often benefit from each of these therapies, but speech therapy can often be the most transformative for families. When a child is able to clearly express their thoughts, feelings, and wishes to their parents for the first time, that is a truly magical moment.

Since 1927, our nation has celebrated Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM) to raise public awareness that over fourteen million Americans struggle with a hearing, speech, language, voice, and/or swallowing disorder, and many of those affected are children. Over fifty pairs of muscles in our mouths and throats must work together so that we can chew, swallow, and speak. It’s very easy to take those processes for granted. Recognizing what a gift clear communication is and helping as many people as possible enjoy the benefits of better speech and hearing are what this month is all about.

Better Speech for Children with Autism

Our physical, occupational and speech therapists in Chicago work with all sorts of children to help them communicate more clearly. With children on the autism spectrum in particular, speech therapy can take many different forms, depending upon the severity of the child’s condition.

For example, some children with autism are able to speak clearly and actually enjoy speaking with a variety of people. But these same children sometimes have difficulty recognizing and understanding social cues and body language. They may need help understanding when it’s ok to touch other people, how to be gentle, and what sorts of things are appropriate to say in certain situations. This sort of behavioral therapy can involve speech therapy, occupational therapy, and sensory integration therapy in combination with one another.

At the other end of the spectrum, some children with autism are unable to speak at all. In these cases, a speech therapist can work with the child and their caregivers to create a system of communication that will help the child be understood. An appropriate system might include a combination of sign language and picture boards, known as a picture exchange communication system, that the child can point to in order to indicate wants and needs.  Research has shown that using these types of systems can actually help a child learn to communicate verbally.

One of the most important things to remember when working with a child with autism is that they are a unique individual, just like each of us. Therefore, every child with autism – and indeed, every child with a speech, language, or hearing disorder – should be met on their own terms using therapies that are customized to their specific needs, wishes, and interests.

To learn more about Better Speech and Hearing Month, or to schedule a consultation with our Chicago speech therapists and/or occupational therapists, contact our team today!

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