Identify The Signs

Communication disorders and the importance of early intervention.

National speech and language pathology organizations from Australia, Canada, The UK, and The States have all joined together to raise awareness of communication disorders as a global health issue with the Identify the Signs Campaign. It’s designed to help people better recognize the early warning signs of communication disorders.

 Identify The Signs - Hearing  Identify The Signs - Communication

According to the site, approximately 40-million Americans have difficulty with speaking or hearing due to a communication disorder.  With 314-million of us, that is nearly 13% of our entire population…7% of that being children with some form of already identified speech and language impairment (as classified in schools through IDEA) – ASHA.

To put these percentages in perspective on a local level here’s a rundown of some cities and the amount of children this impacts (given the premise that approximately half of the impacted population are children which gives a low estimate):

Approximate Population from US Census Data

Children with hearing and communication disorders

Highlands Ranch/Lone Tree

108000

7000

Littleton

44000

2900

Centennial

104000

6800

Greenwood Village

14500

950

Denver (City)

634000

41200

Golden

19000

1200

Broomfield

58000

3800

Boulder

102000

6600

Denver Metro

2.7 million

175,500

As a speech language pathologist with over a decade of experience serving kids from birth to 22 in clinic, home, and school settings, I’m uniquely aware of the benefits of early identification and early intervention.  Speech and language development, like everything, is impacted by habit.  The longer something is done (accurately or inaccurately) , the harder it is to make a change in that process.  Thus, communication issues that are left unaddressed become part of a habit of motor movements, a habit of vocabulary use/avoidance, a habit of social compensations, etc.  that the child will have to work through as he/she makes the changes that they want (can’t talk about habit without a nod to motivation). The longer it occurs, the more likely it is to impact academics, other areas of development, social interaction and ultimately job potential and quality of life.  Of course on the national scale, this also impacts, costs, availability of resources, and global competitiveness.

The Identify the Signs website is a good resource for getting some basic information that you can share such as this PDF with some developmental milestones to watch for, or this link to their signs page.  More importantly if you have concerns about your child’s speech or language development, contact an SLP in your area, talk to your child’s teachers, or ask your pediatrician.