Helen Keller once noted that of all her impairments, she was perhaps troubled most by her lack of speech and hearing. She elaborated, that while blindness separated her from things, her lack of speech and hearing separated her from people – the human connection of communication.
For over 75 years May has been designated as Better Hearing and Speech Month — a time to raise public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the various forms of communication impairments to include those of hearing, speech, language, and voice. Communication impairments affect the most vulnerable in our society — the young, the aged, the disabled, and the poor.
Speech-Language Pathology (Speech-Language Pathologists) and Audiology (Audiologists) are the professions concerned with the prevention, identification, and treatment of communication impairments. After earning a master’s degree (consisting of required coursework and practicum experiences), passing a national examination, and serving a yearlong clinical internship, these professionals are eligible for certification, in the form of the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
An estimated 28 million Americans have a hearing loss that can be treated; yet fewer than 7,000,000 use a hearing aid. Now is a good time to take stock of your own hearing and seek help if you think you may have a problem. You have a hearing loss if you:
§ frequently ask people to repeat themselves
§ often turn your ear toward a sound to hear it better
§ understand people better when you wear your glasses or look directly at their faces
§ lose your place in group conversations
§ keep the volume on your radio or TV at a level that others say is too loud
§ have pain or ringing in your ears
One of the most common ways to overcome hearing loss is through use of a properly fitted hearing aid, according to Lori Fish, MS, CCC-A of Fort HealthCare Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists. “When fitting patients for hearing aids, we take into consideration what will work best for the patient given the degree of their hearing impairment and their lifestyle,” said Fish, an audiologist. “Everyone is different. But with all the new technology, there are lots of styles to choose from.”
Audiologists test hearing, prescribe hearing aids and assistive listening devices, and they can teach people with hearing loss how to make the most of the sounds they hear.
In celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month, Fort HealthCare is offering a special on hearing aid batteries during the month of May. Cartons of batteries are available for $20 each at all Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist locations. Call 920-563-6667 to reserve sizes and quantities, or to schedule an appointment.
Speech and language disorders take many forms such as speech, articulation, voice, stuttering, aphasia, and oral language problems. They may be learning based, acquired, or the result of accidental injury or illness at any age. Speech and language disorders can limit academic achievement, social adjustment, and career advancement. Kathy Pazak M.S. CCC-SLP, a Speech and Language Pathologist with Fort HealthCare Rehabilitation Services, encourages parents to have their children screened if they suspect a delay in language development, as most disorders are treatable. “Children enrolled in therapy early in their development tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later,” she says.
One of the perks of working as a speech pathologist at Fort HealthCare is the opportunity to work with patients who span the age range. Voice and swallowing problems are not a normal part of aging, but many seniors with these conditions don’t receive treatment, even thought they may suffer serious quality-of-life issues such as depression, anxiety, under nutrition and social isolation. Voice and swallowing issues are serious concerns whether you are 2 or 82.
Speech and Language Pathologists Patience Cosson M.S. CCC-SLP and Roxanne DePaul Ph.D. CCC-SLP are available at the Fort HealthCare Outpatient Clinics in Whitewater, Lake Mills and Fort Atkinson.
For speech and language screenings, contact Fort HealthCare Rehab Services at 920-568-5299.