Good communication skills can improve academic achievement, self-esteem, social adjustment

The most anticipated moment for many parents is the sound of a child’s first word. But what if the words are delayed, jumbled or never come at all?

To help raise public awareness of speech and language disorders that affect 14 million Americans, Owatonna Hospital is observing Better Hearing and Speech Month in May. Speech and language problems can be significant roadblocks to a child’s education and success later in life. “Which is why early identification and support for communication disorders is critical before your child even enters school,” said Owatonna Hospital Speech Pathologist Anna Forsman-Johnson.

“Just imagine entering a classroom for the first time, only to understand just a fraction of what your teacher says. Or knowing every answer to every question, but being too afraid of your own speech to answer,” she said.

Not only can speech and language problems affect a child’s learning ability in the classroom, but they can also affect the ability to make friends, establish healthy relationships and create feelings of isolation.

Speech and language disorders can take many forms such as stuttering, delayed language or voice problems. So, what is the difference between speech and language? Speech is the way people make sounds, such as saying “gog” for “dog”. Language, on the other hand, is the way people convey meaning, such as comprehending that a dog is a dog and not saying that it’s a cow.

Sometimes, an individual is born with a speech or language disorder, or it’s caused by accidental injury or illness. Fortunately, with early help, many children can go on to develop good learning and literacy skills to help them succeed in the classroom and in life, said Forsman-Johnson.

Even if the problem can’t be eliminated, a speech-language pathologist can teach parents and children strategies to cope with speech and language problems to increase communication and decrease frustration. “If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language, a speech therapist can help determine whether its part of normal development or a delay,” explained Forsman-Johnson.

The Owatonna Hospital, part of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, is a not-for-profit regional medical center committed to providing quality, comprehensive care to patients in and around Steele County. Owatonna Hospital provides a full range of inpatient, outpatient and emergency care services, as well as home and palliative care and hospice. Owatonna Hospital works in collaboration with Owatonna Clinic - Mayo Health System, to provide quality healthcare to the Owatonna area. Owatonna Hospital’s services along with the latest health information can be found online at


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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