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Celebrating National Speech-Language-Hearing Month: Advocating Early Identification, Intervention, and Informed Choices


May is recognized annually as National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders and promoting strategies to help improve the lives of those who experience challenges in speech, language, and hearing.

This month serves as an important reminder of the critical role early identification and intervention play in managing these disorders, and the importance of evidence-based practices in treatment.

Equally vital is respecting the wishes of patients and families, empowering them to make informed decisions about their treatment options.

The Importance of Early Identification

Speech, language, and hearing disorders can significantly impact an individual's ability to communicate effectively, influencing their educational, social, and professional opportunities.

Early identification of these disorders is essential. The earlier a potential issue is detected, the better the intervention can be. For children, this can mean the difference between success and struggle in school settings.

Screening for speech and hearing issues is often done in early childhood, sometimes as early as newborns. These screenings are designed to catch any signs that might indicate a disorder, from difficulty understanding or producing language to problems with hearing.

The Role of Early Intervention

Once a disorder is identified, early intervention is the next critical step. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists can develop tailored therapy plans based on the individual’s needs.

For children, these interventions can be integrated into their daily activities at home or school, making therapy a seamless part of their routine. Research consistently shows that early intervention helps develop essential communication skills and improves overall academic or social outcomes.

For adults, early intervention can help maintain job performance and personal relationships, aspects of life that might be severely affected by untreated speech, language, or hearing disorders.

Commitment to Evidence-Based Practices

The fields of speech-language pathology and audiology are deeply rooted in science. As professionals, speech-language pathologists and audiologists commit to using evidence-based practices—methods and techniques that have been proven effective through rigorous research. This commitment ensures that patients receive the highest quality of care.

Using evidence-based practices also means continually updating methods as new research becomes available. This dynamic approach allows practitioners to offer the most current treatments, ensuring patients benefit from the latest advancements in the field.

Respecting Patient and Family Wishes

While early identification and intervention, backed by evidence-based practices, are critical, respecting the wishes of patients and families is equally important. Every individual’s situation is unique, and what works for one person may not be the best for another.

Patients and families must be given comprehensive information about the available treatment options, including potential outcomes and any risks involved. This empowers them to make informed decisions that align with their values, cultural beliefs, and personal preferences. For families of children with speech and language disorders, understanding the full range of therapeutic options allows them to be active, informed participants in their child's care.


National Speech-Language-Hearing Month is an opportunity to highlight the importance of communication. It calls on everyone—healthcare providers, educators, policymakers, and the public—to recognize the significance of early identification and intervention.

It also reminds us to uphold the highest standards of care by using evidence-based practices while respecting the individual choices of those we hope to help.

This May, let's commit to enhancing the lives of those with speech, language, and hearing disorders by advocating for early action, becoming informed by research, and being guided by the values and wishes of those at the heart of our efforts. 

Together, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to communicate, unlocking the full potential of their lives.

©Photo by FatCamera from Getty Images Signature

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About the blogger

K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Todd is currently a Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Akron.

In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Dr. Houston has been a photojournalist, an Executive Director/CEO of an international non-profit organization, a clinician, published author, researcher, and an academic. This professional journey has shaped a world-view that embraces diversity and supports engagement across cultures.

Dr. Houston has a passion for ensuring that others have an opportunity to fully express themselves.
Combining his journalism background with more than two decades of focused work with children and adults impacted by hearing loss, Dr. Houston has co-created a company that is committed to producing a range of content that informs and inspires.

Through the 3C Digital Media Network, Dr. Houston will bring together a diverse array of voices who can tell their stories and inspire others to be their very best selves.

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