Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment. This year is special because it’s the 75th Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) in the United States.
For 2016, the BHSM theme is “Communication Takes Care“ and reflects the important service of health professionals in speech therapy positions.
In honor of the how their important skills benefit patients all year round, the following is a review of current statistics on communication disorders and some of the challenges the modern speech therapist face.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, the number of Americans suffering from speech, voice, language or hearing impairment hovers around 43 million—in that sobering statistic, there are at least 28 million confirmed cases of hearing loss—and the figure that resonates? 10% of these communication disorders are owned by our children; reason enough for SLPs to get up each day and excel at doing what they do—teaching strategies that help patients cope and overcome.
Because a child with a communication disorder is 4 or 5 times more likely than his peers to suffer from significant reading problems, speech and language pathologists are relied upon by the general public to anticipate those hurdles, and, if possible, lift them out of the way; of course, SLPs are there for anyone in need, at any age, unwilling to let communication disorders hamper social lives, careers or G.P.A.
That being said, have you taken stock of your own health lately? How’s your hearing? It may surprise you to know that of those 28 million people we mentioned earlier—the ones with hearing deficits—only a quarter of them seek diagnosis and hearing aids; since this is a “silent treatment” we can’t afford to perpetuate, here’s a shortlist of symptoms we’d like you to consider.
Is Speech and Hearing Month when you decide you need a hearing aid? The answer may be yes, if you identify with any of the following:
- Have pain or ringing in your ears
- Frequently ask people to repeat themselves
- Keep the volume up on audio equipment, others say is too loud
- Understand people better looking directly at their faces, or by wearing your glasses
- Lose your place in group conversations
- Often turn your ear toward a sound to hear it better
If you don’t get around to thinking about these issues this month, but nonetheless like a historical excuse to take charge of your hearing and communicative health, let June inspire you too.
On June 27, 2010, Helen Keller celebrates her 130th birthday. While not a board certified, and rigorously trained speech therapist, her teacher and mentor, Anne Sullivan, who employed SLP skills helping Helen, made a huge difference in the quality of Helen’s life; to come so far a century ago, is so telling of what speech therapists are capable of now.
This May we ask you to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month and to keep working your miracles all year long.