Published Thursday March 18th, 2010
(NC) - Imagine going through life not being able to understand what people are saying to you; having to constantly ask people to repeat themselves; not knowing what's expected of you or how to behave.
Imagine what it's like when you can't express your feelings to your family, friends or, especially, strangers.
Imagine the sense of isolation, frustration, anger.
For millions of Canadians who live with a speech, language or hearing difficulty, these experiences can be an everyday occurrence. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The ability to hear, understand and be understood is fundamental to our development as productive citizens and when hearing and speech problems go undetected and untreated, the results can be severe.
According to the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA), the organization that represents 5,400 speech, language and hearing professionals across Canada, dealing with this crisis is an up-hill battle.
One of the biggest challenges is getting referrals - being put in touch with people who need help. Often, individuals with hearing or speech disorders are labeled as having some type of behavioural problem. They're seen as either uncooperative or withdrawn, or unpredictable and hostile.
This can be especially true with children. In many cases, this kind of behaviour is often merely the symptom of a more profound hearing or speech disorder and unless these individuals are referred to a hearing or speech specialist, the problem can go undetected and untreated.
Daycare workers, teachers, social workers, public health nurses and doctors need to understand that behavioural problems that appear to be purely psychological can often be traced to a hearing or speech disorder. Call in the experts - they know what to look for - the subtle signs that are so often missed by professionals in other disciplines.CASLPA acknowledges that there are currently an insufficient number of the professionals that are needed to provide Canadians with an adequate level of service.