PCMH offers tips for detecting communication disorders in children | Families
PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - Perry County Memorial Hospital is offering some tips on how to detect communication disorders in children.
The hospital says although more than 5 million children in the United States have a speech, language, and hearing disorder, parents are often uninformed and unsure about what to do when they suspect their child. A speech-language pathologist has the responsibility to provide information about communication disorders to help ensure that the disorders do not seriously affect your children’s ability to learn, socialize with others, and be successful in school.
Speech and language problems can occur at any time in a child’s life. They can be caused by accidental injury, illness, or inherited by birth. Child speech and language problems include: stuttering, articulation problems (“wabbit” instead of “rabbit”), language disorders such as the slow development of vocabulary, concepts and grammar, and voice disorders (nasal, breathy, or hoarse voice and speech that is too high or low). Other areas that may be improved through speech therapy include feeding aversions or swallowing difficulties as well as social aspects of language.
Parents who suspect their child has a communication disorder should see an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. These professionals identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders. Speech-language pathologists work in schools, private practice, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, health departments, research laboratories, and other health education settings.
“Fortunately, most children with speech, language, and hearing problems can be helped,” according to Bethany Rhodes, Speech-Language Pathologist at Perry County Memorial Hospital. “Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, we can teach the child strategies to help them cope with their communication disorders, or provide them with the appropriate technology. We hope parents will learn about communication disorders, what they can do to help their children, and how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help with their child’s communication disorders.”
Meanwhile, hearing loss, like speech and language problems, can have a negative impact on a child’s social and academic development. Communication disorders like hearing loss in children can occur at birth or as a child grows older due to chronic ear infections or exposure to noise. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious the effects have on the child’s development.
Typical signs of a hearing loss in children include:
- Inconsistently responding to sound
- Delayed language and speech development
- Unclear speech
- Sound is turned up on electronic equipment (radio, TV, CD player, etc.)
- Does not follow directions
- Often says “Huh?”
- Does not respond when called
- Frequently misunderstands what is said and wants things repeated
As a first step, people who think their child is displaying many of these warning signs and think they may have hearing loss or other hearing disorders should see a certified audiologist. These professionals specialize in preventing, identifying, assessing, and treating hearing disorders.
“Audiologists provide treatments for hearing loss including fitting hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, and they can teach children with hearing loss how to concentrate on hearing all sounds,” said Dr. Becky Donnelly, Audiologist at Perry County Memorial Hospital.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends that children at risk for hearing loss, such as those who suffer from chronic ear infections or in cases where there is a family history of hearing loss, be screened by a certified audiologist as frequently as needed to ensure they are hearing well. Otherwise, for children ages 5-18, hearing screenings should occur on initial entry into school and annually in kindergarten through third grade as well as in the seventh and eleventh grades.
While the school districts have strict guidelines to follow to treat speech and language delays that affect a child’s educational success, PCMH can treat any disorder mild or severe. Parents who think their children may have a speech, language, or hearing disorder or know of a loved one who has a communication disorder should contact Perry County Memorial Hospital Rehabilitative Therapy Services at 573-768-3400.
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