Many people who have a diminished auditory capacity also experience speech problems. Because of this, speech-language pathology is often offered as part of the treatment regimen of a hearing center. Language impairment affects approximately 8 or 9 percent of the United States population, and many of these impediments have no known cause. However, doctors and researchers have found that the problem is often linked to the loss of the ability to hear.
Because many people who cannot hear well never learn how to pronounce words properly, they can develop a speech impediment based on what they think words should sound like. Sometimes, their ability to hear might be so diminished that it causes a very serious speech disorder such as stuttering or unintelligible speech.
Therefore, a hearing center will often have multiple speech pathologists on hand as part of a multidisciplinary effort to treat the many effects that loss of auditory perception can have. This is especially important for children who have a diminished ability to hear. At a young age, it will be easier to treat their speech problems and teach them proper pronunciation and syntax. Treating and correcting their speech impediment can lead to better social skills, improved self-esteem, and better academic performance.
Treating the speech impediments of children is equally important for another reason. When a noticeable speech impediment develops very early in life, it likely means that the effect of the underlying problem on the child’s development will be much more severe than if the impediment developed later in life. In the case of an auditory perception problem, this could mean a severe limitation or even total loss of the child’s ability to hear. Speech language pathologists are an important part of the diagnostic process to determine what, if any, role the child’s ears play in the speech impediment.
Speech language pathologists working at a hearing center are especially important in treating those who are afflicted with auditory processing disorder. This disorder is technically a problem with the ability to hear. However, it is not the ear that is malfunctioning, but rather the brain’s ability to process and understand sounds. When a patient is affected by an auditory processing disorder, an audiologist alone will not be able to treat the problem. Once again, a multidisciplinary effort will be needed to get to the root of the matter. A speech language pathologist is a necessary part of this team, as correcting the incorrect speech patterns that have developed will be an integral part of the necessary treatment.
The speech language pathologists working at a hearing center can provide a wide range of services to children and adults with speech problems. They can screen patients by performing speech tests and asking questions about the patient’s medical and family history. They can then provide a number of treatments, as well as counseling and follow-up consultations to make sure the problem has not reemerged.