Well-developed communication skills connect us socially, emotionally and professionally. They depend on the interaction between hearing, speech and language. Any problems call for a professional opinion. Although this is true for adults, it is especially true for children.
Childhood communication gaps do not fix themselves.
Good hearing greatly eases the way as children learn how to speak and develop language abilities. Babies are very sensitive to sound stimulation. They listen intently and try to imitate noises that they perceive in their environment. As they grow, they pick up words and connect them with their meaning.
However, it has been shown that even a mild hearing loss can greatly interfere with normal speech and language development in kids. Even children who have passed the newborn hearing screen must be closely watched as hearing loss can set in months or even years after birth.
Vocabulary delays result in social and learning challenges. Parents worry about the child not meeting the communication milestones for his/her age. The earlier parents recognize a child’s communication problems, the better it is. Discuss any concerns with the pediatrician. A referral might be needed to consult an audiologist or speech-language pathologist.
Many problems related to hearing, speech and language can be eased or even corrected. But first, they must be evaluated and diagnosed. Early detection and professional intervention are important if children are to succeed socially and academically.
Communication challenges in adults
For adults, communication failures related to hearing loss lead to plenty of frustration, isolation and depression. Hearing loss makes the understanding of speech increasingly difficult, especially in background noise. This results in misunderstandings and miscommunication with friends and family but also with people at work. Denial makes things worse. Hearing loss affects people socially and emotionally and can be a career-ender.
There are many reasons for hearing loss and not all hearing loss is the same. A professional hearing test is the first step to getting answers on the condition. From there, learning about the technology choices that can ease communication, even in not-so-quiet places, can make a world of difference.
May is Better Hearing and Speech month
Ever since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) dedicates the month of May to raise public awareness about disorders involving communication problems. If a child’s speech and language abilities are slow to develop, get a professional opinion. If hearing struggles threaten quality of life, both socially and professionally, get tested.
This year, ASHA’s theme is “Communication: The Key to Connection,” which ties in with American businessman Paul J. Meyer’s statement that “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”
To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way.