By Tara Guastella
Stuttering, a slow rate of speech, and mumbling. Struggling to say sounds, pulling or scratching at the ears, and social isolation. Did you know that all of these are signs of a hearing loss or a communication disorder?
Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and other communication disorders. These disorders, which are characterized by difficulty speaking or hearing, affect the youngest and oldest members of our society—and everyone in between.
When left untreated, their effects of can be debilitating. Too often, people struggle with these challenges and fail to seek proper, timely treatment. Early detection of speech, language, and hearing issues is absolutely critical to treatment success, impacting academic, social, and career outcomes.
Unfortunately, many parents, caregivers, spouses, and other loved ones are unable to identify the early warning signs of these issues or dismiss them too readily. A recent poll of the speech-language pathologists and audiologists of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—the professionals who treat these disorders—reported that lack of awareness of these signs is the leading barrier to early detection.
To help remedy the situation, ASHA has launched a national campaign, Identify the Signs. We’re proud to announce that Hearing Health Foundation has joined this effort as a campaign partner. This yearlong multimedia campaign, which launched this fall, addresses the importance of early detection, helps the public identify the early warning signs of communication disorders, and encourages people to seek the most appropriate professional help.
The campaign includes TV, radio, print, and digital public service announcements and a media outreach push. Please visit the campaign website for information and resources, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues. Above all, we hope you will seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one shows signs of having a disorder.
Early diagnosis is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse the impact of these disorders and can give your loved ones the opportunity to lead the fullest lives possible.