HOLLYWOOD — May is known for the Kentucky Derby and Mother’s Day, but it’s also a month that calls attention to speech and hearing issues.
To coincide with Better Hearing & Speech Month, as designated by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Children’s Center for Diagnostics and Therapy – which is under the umbrella of the Tribe’s Center for Behavorial Health – is stressing the importance of early intervention and screening in the tribalwide pediatric population.
“We’re doing speech screenings. We will be sending out announcements to increase awareness to have their child brought in. If they have concern, they can schedule a screening with us,” said Allison Mason, coordinator of Therapeutic Services. She also noted that hearing tests can be scheduled at the Tribe’s health clinics.
Throughout the year specialists from CCDT meet with kids at the Tribe’s four preschools, the Ahfachkee School and Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School in addition to holding sessions in offices, homes and clinics.
“We focus on speech and language components,” said Candice Feivelson, speech language pathologist. “The ideal goal is to start them as young as possible to work through early intervention whether it’s language delay, receptive skills, expressive skills – which include play skills – understanding of language and the use of language. And then as they get a little bit older, also the way they produce their sounds to make them more intelligible if they’re not understood by their peers, their families.”
Better Hearing & Speech Month comes on the heels of Occupational Therapy Month, which occupied April. Regardless of the season, specialists and therapists in both the speech-language and OT areas can play vital roles in child development at any time of the year.
“They can really impact the lives of children or any of the people that they work with,” said Jonathan Robbins, program administrator. “The services are way more than you would think for both of them.”
Occupational therapists work on kids’ physical skill development, including fine motor skills – such as writing – as well as play skills, coordination, balance and sensory information.
“Our goals would be that they would improve their strength, their coordination, their grasping skills,” said Stacy Kramer, an occupational therapist. “We also hope they are also able to have better coping skills, self-regulation skills in the classroom so that they can sit still, they can be comfortable in their body and they can pay attention to the teacher.”