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Medical Monday...Better Hearing and Speech Month

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 12:10 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -It’s Better Hearing and Speech Month, a month used to focus on getting your hearing screened, especially for children. Dr. Kristina Manion a physician at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital says, “The theme this year for their organization is called connecting people. And you can look at that a variety of ways in the community, but specifically for children it’s hearing screening.”

Dr. Kristina Manion is talking about Better Hearing and Speech Month, which is an initiative through the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association that focuses on encouraging people to get their own hearing and speech checked. Dr. Manion says speech and language disorders are the most common disability that patients are seen for in schools.

Manion adds, “Being as there’s over a million kids in speech therapy services in the United States. So it’s a service that’s provided by public schools and it’s always available to kids once they’re enrolled.”

Dr. Manion says while screening often starts with a hearing test, it isn’t the most common issue children face with speech.

Manion says, “The most common cause is not actually hearing, it’s more of just how the kids are learning their sounds. So, hearing is a good screening to make sure they’re not just having a speech issue, when really they have an underlying hearing issue. So, the initial work up includes hearing to make sure they aren’t having a hearing issue instead of a speech issue, but then once they rule that out, most of them really aren’t a hearing issue, it’s really a pronunciation, formulating of the words, articulation, tongue placement, lip placement, making sure the anatomy is not prohibiting it.”

There are some signs to watch for in your children.

“Common signs are a delay in word number at a certain age. So, while the criteria isn’t exact, it’s kind of a good rule to say that by the age of 2 you should have about 20 words. There are things they can do that aren’t necessarily therapy that needs to be addressed with how they pronounce the words, but more of things we can do at home, like reading to the children, certainly the more you can read to them books, the better. Encourage your child to use their words, if they’re not quite hitting that 20 words level. Some referrals are placed earlier if you notice there is a speech delay and a developmental delay in terms of how the kid is walking.” according to Manion.

Dr. Manion says all children are screened for hearing at birth in the state of Maine. But some do experience speech or hearing issue later in life due to tongue tie, fluid in the ears or different learning opportunities from other children. She recommends getting your child screened if you have any concerns.

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