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Each year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association sponsors Better Hearing & Speech Month, an awareness campaign dedicated to educating the public about communication disorders.

A communication disorder can refer to any impairment of an individual’s ability to comprehend, detect and apply language and speech. In 2019, the theme of Better Speech and Hearing Month is Communication Across the Lifespan.

When it comes to communication disorders, early intervention is key. The ability to communicate effectively is central to children’s social, emotional and intellectual development. The earlier a communication disorder is diagnosed, the more likely it is that the treatment for it will be successful. If you have young children, here are some signs that may indicate the possibility of a hearing or speech disorder.

By 12 months: your child doesn’t respond to their name and doesn’t use communicative gestures like nodding or shaking their head. They also don’t communicate in any way when they need or want something.

By 18 months: your child is still not speaking and doesn’t respond to simple words and commands like “stop” and “don’t touch.”

By 24 months: your child says fewer than 100 words, doesn’t imitate actions or words and isn’t joining words together to make simple sentences.

By 3 to 4-years-old: your child doesn’t ask questions, use sentences or recount simple stories.

If you notice these symptoms and behaviors in your child, ask your doctor to test for communication disorders. Even children under the age of two can benefit from the intervention of a professional to ensure that they have the communication skills they need to succeed later in life.

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