Listen Up

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month (BHSM) and speech therapists at a local elementary school are doing something about it.

Robin Anderson and Amy Corbran, speech therapists at Warren Area Elementary Center, have been promoting awareness of speech and language disabilities to teachers, parents and students throughout the month.

Some of the older speech students do weekly video skits, songs and dances for the morning announcements.

Corbran said, “We sent informational packets home with the students, because the majority of care-takers are most likely unavailable for one-on-one educational lessons. The packets outline how to help kids with speech difficulties at home, how to motivate your child to practice at home, and knowledgeable speech-language websites for extra educational purposes. We thought that this would be a best way to reach out to our parents.”

Anderson added, “First of all, parents need to be aware of the ‘goal page’ within their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) to know what it is that they are working on in speech therapy. Once they have been in contact with their child’s speech therapist or have become aware of the speech goal, parents are provided with a vast amount of resources to turn to at home. They can access speech-language websites regarding articulation, sound errors, and language difficulties, and these websites provide education and ideas for at-home use.”

Corbran said, “Parents can even utilize iPods and iPads in which speech-related applications are available for extra practice with their child’s target goals. It is encouraged that parents incorporate curriculum-based material into their ‘at home speech practice’ to essentially be working on learning content for school, along with practicing their speech sounds at the same time.”

She continued, “We are providing teachers with educational handouts on atypical speech language behaviors to be ‘on the look out for’ within the school environment. The sooner we can pick up on speech difficulties, the easier it is to correct the mistake.”

They are having second- through sixth-grade students draw posters or write poems about “What better speech and hearing means to you.” All of the teachers in the school will vote on posters and poems, and first, second, and third places in each grade will win a prize. The artworks will be displayed in the hallways at school.

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, more than 28 million Americans have hearing loss, and this month is a time to encourage people to get their hearing tested.

Symptoms of hearing loss include frequently asking people to repeat themselves; turning an ear toward a sound to hear it better; understanding people better when looking directly at their faces; losing track in group conversations; keeping the volume on radio or TV that others say is too loud; have pain or ringing in the ears; and noticing that some sounds, such as low -pitched or bass lines, remain clear while women’s and children’s high-pitched sounds seem fuzzy.