This post is sponsored by ASHA as part of May’s Better Speech and Hearing Month campaign.
Are you aware of the early signs of a speech, language or hearing disorder? As a mom, I figured I’d see the signs in my kids and since I took them to the doctor for their annual checkups so there was no way I’d miss the early signs. Wrong! I missed the signs in 2 of my 4 kids.
Identifying The Early Signs of a Language Disorder
My oldest child had a language disorder, which his Kindergarten teacher recognized. She recommended we have him tested and sure enough, he was diagnosed with expressive, receptive and pragmatic language disorders.
He worked all through grade school with a speech pathologist at school and by the time he went into middle school, he was right on target with his age group and didn’t need the therapy anymore.
I often wonder, had I known the early signs, could we have recognized the language issues earlier and got him the therapy before he entered school.
Here are some of the signs we saw early, but dismissed:
Doesn’t understand what others say. I assumed he was just being a kid and was more interested in whatever else he was doing.
Has trouble playing and talking with other children. We didn’t even see this as an issue. We figured this would improve when he entered school and was around kids more every day.
Has problems with early reading and writing skills (i.e. no interest in books.) This one is probably the one I wish I’d known about. It did bother me that at the preschool age, he had no interest in books. He was a very active child and I figured he didn’t like to sit still.
Why Recognize The Signs Early?
When you recognize the early signs of a speech, language or hearing disorder before the age of 2, you can get your child the help early it is often easier to overcome at an early age.
Recognize The Early Signs Of Speech & Hearing Disorder
With my daughter who was my 4th child, I had a feeling there were some issues before she was 2, but her doctors said to wait until she was 3. I wish I had listened to my instincts and known the early signs because it wasn’t until she entered school that we realized there was something going on.
Here are some of the signs we saw, but again dismissed:
Doesn’t respond when you call her name. I figured she was just being a kid and tuning me out.
Doesn’t follow simple directions. Once again, we thought she was ignoring us because she didn’t want to do whatever we asked her to do.
Needed the volume up high anytime she watched TV or listened to music and she would repeatedly say, “What?” when we talked to her. Once again, we thought she was being a kid and ignoring her parents. Or she couldn’t hear us because the volume of the TV was so loud.
When she entered Kindergarten, her teacher recognized that she wasn’t hearing as well as she should, so we took her to an ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat) doctor to have her tested.
Sure enough, she had a lot of fluid in her ears and it was affecting how well she was hearing. She had the fluid in her ears for some time and it had delayed proper speech development. She did not get ear infections very often, which is why it wasn’t caught early by her doctors.
She sounded like she was speaking with cotton in her mouth. That was because she was hearing sounds through water. When she was learning words, she was saying them, as she hears them through water.
She had tubes put in her ears and immediately a new world opened up for her. She said everything sounded very loud and so clear and she heard words in ways she’d never heard before.
She had to learn the new sounds. This also has affected her reading and she is still working on getting caught up with some of her reading skills.
Had we caught this problem earlier, we could have fixed the problems with the fluid in her ears and it may not have affected her language and reading as much as it did.
I had a lot of guilt for not seeing the early signs of speech and language disorders in my kids, which is why I’m sharing my story.
Overcoming Speech, Language and Hearing Disorders
Kids can still overcome the problems created by these disorders even when caught later. But finding the problem early means it will not affect other parts of their development and education.
That is why the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association supports the Better Speech and Hearing Month in May. Giving parents the knowledge will help them recognize the signs early on.
Another great topic for parents is how loud is too loud for kids. Now that my kids all have great hearing, I want to keep it that way!
Disclosure: I was compensated for sharing my story as part of the Better Hearing and Speech Month campaign. All opinions are my own. I’m hoping my story will help other parents recognize the signs early.