Helen Keller once noted that of all of 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.
I know from experience how “tricky” communication with a child can be. Ryan was about a year old when I noticed language delays. Like any parent, I kept track of the number of words he spoke and his ability to respond to my questions. He met all the suggested guidelines for language development at that age, but I still had concerns. I spoke to one of our speech pathologists, Kathleen Vogt, and she suggested a biweekly play group. Ryan worked on his expressive and receptive skills with other children, in a play setting under the direction of a speech pathologist. This was the start of our communication journey.
Ryan is now 19 years old. He voices his opinion, as all teenagers do, with gusto! In fact, sometimes while we’re riding in the car and he’s talking up a storm, I’ll suggest that we listen to the silence of the moment. Who knew 18 years later…
This May, as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association continues its public education efforts around the communication health of children by providing education for parents, raising awareness, as well as identifying and preventing speech and language delays.
All children with language difficulties can learn to connect. Professionals, such as speech pathologists and audiologists, teach children strategies to cope with communication challenges, and if needed, provide them with the appropriate technology.
To me, communication is more than verbal output – it’s about relating to others. I’m grateful for Kathy and all of the professionals who supported Ryan and who work daily with children.
Tune in Thursday to meet some professionals working in the field of speech pathology at our school. How do they help a child connect to others with communication?
I have always felt that was Helen Keller’s most powerful quote.