Thousands of young children in the Kansas City area headed back to school this September. During the initial months of the school year, there is heightened attention on students’ development and academic progress. Let us hope they have healthy speech and hearing, for there aren’t many other settings where the ability to communicate matters more.

With nearly 20 years of experience working in the field of communication disorders, we have seen the debilitating effects that these issues can have on the people of the Kansas City area when left untreated. Too often, people of all ages struggle with these challenges and fail to seek proper, timely treatment because they cannot recognize the early warning signs. Early detection of speech, language and hearing issues is absolutely critical to improving academic, social and career outcomes.

For people with communication disorders, those closest to them are often their biggest asset. Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers are unable to identify the early warning signs of these issues or dismiss them too readily. A recent poll of the speech-language pathologists and audiologists of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—a professional association of which many of our therapists are members—reported significant parental delays in getting help for children  with communication difficulties.

To remedy that, ASHA has launched a national campaign, Identify The Signs. This multimedia effort addresses the importance of early detection, helps the public identify the early warning signs of communication disorders, and encourages people to seek the best professional help through a series of TV, radio, print and digital public service announcements and a media outreach push. I encourage you to visit for information and resources, and to share it in your community. Above all, though, we hope you will seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one shows signs of having a disorder.

Every day, we see in our work that untreated, communication disorders often lead to larger academic, social and developmental issues. Please visit and learn more about the early signs of speech, language and hearing disorders. Early diagnosis is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse their impact and can give your loved ones the opportunity to lead the fullest lives possible.

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