Better Hearing and Speech Month: Hearing & Speech Starting at Birth

May is Better Hearing and Speech (BHSM) month. To help bring awareness to the topic, my sponsors, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) have launched a new campaign as well as provide new resources intended to educate about this year’s topic “Communication Disorders are Treatable”.

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This is a topic that is very personal to me, as a mom of a sweet child who has received speech and pediatric therapy assistance from a young age. I have seen what a difference early intervention can make in the lives of children and the families that love them, when it comes to speech therapy. Because of this, I am very passionate about getting the word out to other parents about speech and hearing concerns, and what they can do to address those concerns.

To participate in Better Hearing and Speech Month and to do my part to help bring awareness to this topic, I will be hosting a series of four topics related to communication disorders and ways to treat them. These topics will include, Newborn hearing screening and follow-up, Noise-induced hearing loss in children, Communications issues related to autism, and language and literacy.

Newborn Hearing Screening and Follow-up

This week we are bringing awareness to the need for newborn hearing screenings and to follow-up with the results of those screenings.

It may seem as though speech isn’t a huge concern for a newborn baby, however those first few months of a baby’s life are crucial to a child’s speech development. During these critical months a baby is listening and taking in all of the new sounds, voices and vocabulary in the world around him. As an educator who teaches “mommy and me” classes that include some pre-talkers, I have seen just how much these little ears are able to absorb, long before their little mouths can replicate it! To ensure that those little ears are taking in as much information as possible, it is important to ensure that newborns do not have any hearing issues.

For this reason, newborn hearing screenings, that are used to test a wide range of hearing issues are typically done shortly after the birth of a baby. These screenings are used to identify hearing issues right from the start. If the screening shows that there may be an issue with a child’s hearing, a parent should follow up within a week or two with a doctor or specialist. It may be difficult for a parent of a newborn to admit that their child may need some hearing assistance, however, proper follow-up care could be crucial to the child’s speech development. Getting the child early help may mean the difference between normal speech development and a lifetime of speech challenges.

Because receiving news that a child may have a hearing issue could be very unexpected and shocking, the ASHA has provided some resources to help new parents understand and cope with this challenge. This information on what to expect during your newborn’s hearing screening as well as information specifically for parents of a newborn who may suffer from a hearing issue can be good guides for all expectant parents, to help them to prepare for the tests following their child’s birth. Both of these guides would be great resources to share with any expectant parents, so that they will be prepared for and informed of the unexpected, before the screening even happens.

Another useful resource is a podcast that can be accessed: “Newborn Hearing Screening—In the Hospital and Beyond.” In this podcast Dr. Patti Martin, Director of Audiology and Speech Pathology at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and an ASHA-certified audiologist, provides key information for expectant and new parents—what they need to know about newborn hearing screening, next step if a child fails the hearing screening, and the importance of continued vigilance about the signs of hearing loss throughout a child’s first year of life.

Be sure to do your part this month to raise awareness of communication disorders and the ability to treat these disorders by sharing this information with those around you, opand stay tuned for next week as we learn about noise-induced hearing loss in Children.



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Emily Buys

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