The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, has launched a nationwide multimedia campaign—Identify the Signsto raise awareness of the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing issues. The campaign stems from ASHA’s new findings that identify lack of awareness of these signs as the leading barrier to early detection and treatment.

According to ASHA, results of a recent survey of the organization’s membership revealed that 45% of expert respondents said lack of awareness was the number-one barrier to early detection of communication disorders. Research has shown that early detection is critical to treating—and often reversing—communication disorders. Delayed treatment can result in isolation, poor academic or career performance, and delayed development.

“Our members are certified speech-language pathologists and audiologists who see the consequences of delayed intervention each and every day,” said ASHA President Patricia A. Prelock, PhD. “We are launching this year-long campaign to help the public identify and act on the early warning signs of communication disorders, allowing people to get the most effective treatment for the best chance at improved quality of life.”

ASHA’s new campaign will consist of English and Spanish television, radio, and print public service announcements disseminated to outlets across the country. In addition, the effort will include an online banner ad and feature a campaign website highlighting the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders, as well as consumer resources for treatment and help.

“An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from communication disorders. This campaign has the ability to reduce that number by helping people to identify the first signs of these disorders and seek professional help at a time when treatment is most effective,” Prelock says.

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