Every May, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) celebrates Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) to raise awareness for its mission of making effective communication accessible and achievable for all. This year’s theme is “Connecting People” with a weekly shifting focus to address treatments and strategies specific to Schools, Inpatient and Outpatient Settings, Home, and Workplace.
This year’s theme “Connecting People” is meaningful because many of the social, psychological, and emotional impacts of hearing impairment are subtle and may be tricky to recognize. ASHA estimates that as many as 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and more than just an innocuous irritation, hearing impairment adds unnecessary stress and risks for long-term psychological and physical health, as well as day-to-day enjoyment of life.
So much of our lives depend upon the clarity of simple communication. We depend on it to collaborate in every practical sense and it is the root of all our bonds. It’s how we learn how to trust and how to calibrate our expectations. Whether it is personal, social, or professional, understanding each other and learning to enjoy doing so maximizes the sense of fulfillment we are all capable of achieving.
Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss
Early intervention at the first signs of trouble is key. Especially if left untreated, hearing loss heightens the odds that one will suffer from depression, anxiety, and feelings of social isolation, all of which can eventually compound into more severe conditions such as dementia. Whatever the age, connecting people is a key intervention to preventing this decline.
Adults & Hearing Loss
For adults recognizing hearing loss in themselves, signs of trouble may not be so obvious as pain or ringing in their ears. Difficulty understanding people in person or over the phone, or finding yourself concentrating extra carefully to make out what exactly someone is saying whenever there is any minor distraction, whether you’re in a bustling public space or there’s just another conversation nearby can be signs of potential impairment. Something so simple as friends or family members noting that you often listen to the TV or radio with the volume too loud can tip you off. The earliest possible intervention will save unnecessary suffering.
Pediatric Hearing Loss
Among children, speech, language, and hearing disorders are much more prevalent than many people know. And though it is commonly assumed that these impairments accompany other physical or mental afflictions, often it is the failure to treat the underlying disorder that creates the side effects. Parents often wait to see if their child outgrows a suspected communication issue. But delaying the diagnosis of easily treatable conditions only risks further damaging the developmental skills so key to a child’s formative years. Especially these last few years, with children socializing and engaging with teachers less than ever before due to the pandemic, families must be extra vigilant to engage and encourage children to socialize and be ready to seek treatment at the first signs of falling behind.
Early treatment increases a child’s likelihood of success educationally and socially. The foundations laid for a child from birth onwards all promote greater proclivity for communication, increasing the odds of creating long-lasting positive habits that continue into adulthood. Out of every 1,000 children born in the United States between one and three of them are born with detectable hearing loss that may harm their development. And recognizing potential symptoms in your child does not need to be a clinical process. Playing a simple game of Simon Says or something similar can be enough to check if your child’s development is on track and to teach them the pleasures of connecting with others.
Take Action during Better Hearing & Speech Month!
People of all ages learn to live with diminished hearing, unaware of how an annual hearing test, hearing aids, and ongoing hearing health services can improve their potential in their relationships, their overall sense of personal well-being, and their professional success. Let Better Hearing and Speech Month motivate you to be sure to take the simple steps necessary to know that you are doing what’s best for yourself and your child. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and guarantee that you are living your life to its fullest potential.