Mayor proclaims May as Better Hearing and Speech Month in Westlake

Mayor Dennis Clough, center, was joined by communications disorder experts from the Westlake community to proclaim May as Better Hearing and Speech month in the city. The experts, from left, are: Tracy Biller, Judy Buffington, Ellen Spear, Sarah Rintamaki, Karen Kane, Wendi Willmer and Glenna Greenwald.

Mayor Dennis Clough proclaimed May as Better Hearing and Speech Month in Westlake at a presentation at City Hall on April 10. He was joined by six speech-language pathologists from the Westlake community as well as Sarah Rintamaki from Connecting for Kids, who gathered with the mayor to raise awareness about communication disorders.

With 8 to 9 percent of young children suffering from speech disorders, May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month is the perfect time for parents to learn how to recognize the early signs of these disorders. Parents are encouraged to educate themselves through the Identify the Signs campaign, a national effort of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The campaign is designed to combat an overall lack of awareness about communication disorders – a major barrier to treatment for the more than 40 million Americans who suffer.

Speech, language and hearing disorders are among the most common disabilities in the United States. However, unlike many other disabilities, these disorders often are reversible and even preventable with early intervention. Unfortunately, many parents do not recognize the first signs of these disorders. In young children, early treatment can help prevent them from falling behind academically, socially, and in other key areas at a critical time in their development.

"As a speech-language pathologist who works with children, I see the benefits of early intervention every day," said Tracy Biller, a speech-language pathologist at Lakeshore Speech Therapy in Westlake. "Unfortunately, I also see the consequences of waiting too long to seek treatment – which is why the Identify the Signs campaign is so important. One should not assume a child will ‘outgrow’ speech or language difficulties.”

In children, Biller said, parents should watch for the following signs of speech and language disorders:

  • Does not interact socially (infancy and older)
  • Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)
  • Says only a few sounds or words or makes only a few gestures (18 months to 2 years)
  • Says words that are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)
  • Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)
  • Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)

In adults, signs of speech and language disorders include:

  • Struggles to say or repeats sounds or words (stuttering)
  • Says words in the wrong order (expressive aphasia)
  • Struggles with using words and understanding others (global aphasia)
  • Has difficulty imitating speech sounds (apraxia)
  • Produces slurred speech (dysarthria)

For more signs, treatment information, and other resources, visit

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Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 9:56 AM, 04.29.2014