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BHSM & Beyond

Now that Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) is coming to a close, you might find yourself wondering what else you can do to help raise awareness about communication disorders.

To Recap BHSM

Communication disorders in children are not as uncommon as some may believe. Their prevalence as well as their lower than ideal treatment numbers makes them an increasingly pervasive issue, and similar numbers are seen in adults. “At least 20 percent of U.S. adults, at some point in their lives, have a significant problem with hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, or language,” according to the NIDCD.

If left untreated, communication disorders — which may or may not be developmental, but which can always affect a child’s development — can negatively influence one’s life for the worse. What ASHA and other organizations have undertaken with BHSM is a month aimed to help spread awareness about the importance of early intervention, no matter what stage of life you find yourself or your kids at.

For The Future

So, you’ve already shared all you could on your facebook and twitter feeds. You’ve used the #bhsm hashtag to connect with others. Maybe you even donated some money. What now?

* Just because BHSM is almost over, doesn’t mean your awareness campaign has to stop. Continue visiting the ASHA, the ASHA Leader, the NIDCD websites, which are always being updated with new and crucal information to share. If you’re not already, be sure to also follow their social media accounts. You can find similar speech and hearing resources through google, as well, and do the same.

* Get creative! Creativity is the best way to reach those who might not know about a certain topic. Take a peek at ASHA’s new children’s book, for example, aimed at helping siblings of kids with communication disorders.

* Talk to your congresspeople. If you want to reach a wider audience, this may be a great way forward. ASHA outlines the basics of what you should know about approaching your local governing body or representatives.

* Talk to your medical community. Local hospitals and clinics probably have the best ideas on how to approach spreading the news.

* Talk to your schools. Does your school system offer regular hearing screenings? How well do they manage to monitor for any developmental or comprehension issues their students may face? How well do they implement their IEP’s or 504 plans? It never hurts to ask. Maybe you can even inspire the board to be more proactive if they aren’t already.

There is a lot you can do, and the best part is — if you want to help make communication disorders into a more approachable and known topic of conversation — you don’t have to spend too much time doing it.

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Better Hearing & Speech Month is a big month for hearing specialists and speech language pathologists. It’s also a big month for you. BHSM gives everyone an enormous opportunity to help spread crucial wellness information to those who need it most.

What is BHSM?

All you need to know about Better Hearing and Speech Month is in its name. BHSM was started to provide outreach and instruction about hearing loss-related communication disorders. These are disorders which can, according to the NIDCD, “compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational, and recreational aspects of life.”

It’s a month about the importance of treatment. Not only why it’s crucial, but how to get it. BHSM is just as much about the practical side of hearing and language healthcare.

Affordable hearing healthcare is also a big issue, and one the NIDCD vocally supports. Many people, even if they are aware of the help they can get, might be worried about being able to afford appointments and ongoing management.

Hearing Loss and Communication Disorders

Hearing loss and communication disorders often go hand in hand, and BHSM addresses them both.

Hearing difficulty has an effect on how one interacts with the world. For a child with a developing brain, this interaction could lead to communication or developmental disorders. For an adult, sudden onset or gradual hearing loss can lead to difficulty in concentrating or conversation. Audiologists and speech language pathologists often work together in treatment and management, and this month helps highlight that process.

If you want to know more, REM has written previously about the relationship between hearing and development.

What Can You Do To Help

A big part of this month is helping people with hearing or speech disorders understand their options.

ASHA has a program called “Communication for All” that allows you to easily spread the word. All you have to do is sign up with your personal social media accounts and select which graphics, posts, or videos you want to share with your followers. With each share, you get points that could potentially lead to prizes.

Closer to home, you can approach family or friends who might feel hesitant about getting their hearing assessed. You can point them to some of the resources we’ve listed below. Often one of the best things you can do in approaching hearing loss in others is letting people know they are not alone.

Resources

1. When you have time, the American Speech Language Hearing Association has a lot of great resources you should check out. They break up the month into themes, each week tackling a different topic. Hearing loss in kids and swallowing disorders in adults are just two examples. They also have a helpful list of specific ways you can get involved.

2. The American Academy of Audiology also has a good list of web and advertising tools.

3. Be sure to check out REM’s Facebook page (as well as ASHA’s) for relevant posts throughout the month.