Better Hearing & Speech Month: “Communication across the Lifespan”

For over 90 years, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has dedicated the month of May to raising awareness for communication disorders through Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM). This year’s BHSM theme is “Communication across the Lifespan” to show communication disorders span all ages and can take various forms.

According to ASHA, two to three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with detectable hearing loss in both ears and more than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Because of this, early intervention is critical. The earlier hearing loss is identified and intervention begins, the greater the chances are that children will develop language and other developmental milestones as expected.

Through the tireless efforts of so many pioneers in the field of pediatric audiology, such as Drs. Marion Downs and Yoshinaga-Itano, the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program was established, allowing us to identify hearing loss of infants soon after birth.  
 
However, hearing loss can occur at any age and will not always be detected through newborn hearing screening methods. This is why hearing screenings are so important for school age children as well.  Late-onset hearing loss can be due to a number of factors, such as hereditary, infection, trauma or excessive noise exposure.  The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 12.5% of children between the ages of six  to 19 years of age and 17% of adults aged 20 to 69 years in the United States suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive noise exposure. 

The negative effect of undiagnosed hearing loss can affect a child’s speech, language, social, emotional and academic development. 

For parents, it’s incredibly important to be able to identify the signs of hearing loss:
 
  • BHSM-Audiology-Abigail.jpegShows a lack of attention to sounds (birth to one year)
  • Does not respond when you call his/her name (seven  months to one year)
  • Does not follow simple directions (one to two  years)
  • Shows delays in speech and language development (birth to three  years)
  • Pulls or scratches at his/her ears
  • Has difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math
  • Is socially isolated and unhappy at school
As for adults, hearing loss remains one of the most common chronic health conditions – and while many adults think hearing loss is simply a factor of getting older, it can be much more. Hearing loss can affect every area of a person’s life, including physical health, mental health, career success, social life, personal relationships, and overall quality of life. It’s important to be aware of how to protect your hearing.

This year, the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) of Salus University is offering a 10% discount* that will be applied to the purchase of all hearing aids in the month of May. For more information, please contact PEI at 215.780.3180. (*Up to a $620 value. Cannot be combined with other offers.)

For more information on BHSM, visit asha.org/bhsm