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Even though our Atlanta weather is still a little unpredictable, there is something we can always count on in May. Each May, the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) hosts Better Speech and Hearing Month. The purpose of BSHM is to raise awareness about hearing and communication disorders, nationwide. BSHM also aims to help people recognize the powerful impact of living with a communication disorder or hearing loss, and the many incredible benefits of seeking treatment.
For 2019, the theme of Better Speech and Hearing Month is “Communication Across the Lifespan”. In honor of the holistic, lifelong approach BSHM is taking, we have decided to highlight the importance of healthy hearing in each phase of life. No matter how old or young you are, hearing and communication help us to learn, grow, and connect.
The Importance of Healthy Hearing in Babies
We begin hearing even before we are born. That is why many parents decide to play classical music or talk to their baby while they are still inside the womb. Once born, the sense of hearing becomes even more important. Babies’ sense of hearing develops faster than their sense of sight. Immediately, babies listen to their parents speak and develop cognitively through the sounds around them. By about three months, infants will smile when they are spoken to and at about six months, they begin babbling in an attempt to imitate the speech they hear around them.
Toddlers rely very heavily on hearing as they begin to be able to form words and sentences, they copy from their parents and through familiar stories. They begin to identify pictures they see by name, as well as follow simple instructions told to them verbally.
Most likely, your child will have undergone an infant hearing screen in the hospital before release. However, if your child failed this assessment or did not receive one, it is vitally important to take them in for a hearing assessment as soon as possible. While hearing loss in infancy can greatly impact cognitive and social development, early intervention has been proven very successful in helping children with hearing loss.
The Importance of Healthy Hearing in Children and Teens
In order to develop and grow in social situations as well as academic settings, it is very important that children have healthy hearing (or the appropriate interventions). Hearing is extremely important to our ability to connect with friends at this age, as conversation naturally become deeper and more intricate. In academic settings, hearing is very important as well. While most teachers use visual aids, verbal instruction is inevitable in a general education classroom.
Most schools provide yearly hearing screens for students, however, if your child is falling behind, ask your school for their most recent hearing records. It has been found that kindergarten students with hearing loss who have received intervention have been shown to be on par both socially and academically with their peers without hearing loss.
The Importance of Healthy Hearing in Adults
Healthy hearing may seem less important for adults, as we have finished our development and have likely mastered speech. This is simply untrue. Healthy hearing is as important in adulthood as in any other time in life. Adults with untreated hearing loss has been found to earn significantly less money than their counterparts with healthy hearing, and are more likely to be passed up for a promotion. People with untreated hearing loss are also more likely to feel disconnected from their friends and family, and more likely to struggle in their romantic relationships than those who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids. On top of this, untreated hearing loss has been correlated with an increased risk for cognitive decline and dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month by Scheduling a Hearing Test
If you live in the Atlanta area and have some concerns about some changes in your hearing, or if you would like a baseline hearing assessment, reach out to our friendly team today. What a better time than Better Speech and Hearing Month to take the first step towards healthier hearing and a happier life?