ACRMC observes National Better Hearing and Speech Month

Michala Chaney,M.S., CF-SLP

May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), and Michala Chaney, M.S., CF-SLP, a Speech-Language Pathologist of Adams County Regional Medical Center (ACRMC), is using this year’s observance to encourage residents to seek an evaluation for a communication or swallowing disorder if they have concerns about themselves, a child, or another loved one. These disorders are common in children as well as in adults—yet many do not know that they are treatable by speech-language pathologists.

“Speech-language pathologists’ work with people every day in schools, private practices, health care facilities, and even their own homes to improve their speech, language, social, and cognitive skills,” said Chaney. “A person’s communication skills are critical at each stage of life—for young children, as a strong foundation for language and literacy; for school-aged children, as a requirement for academic and social success; and for adults, as a critical part of their career and personal relationships.

Chaney continued: “Even less well known is the role that speech-language pathologists play in helping people to swallow and eat safely. Again, problems in these areas can occur across the age span, but at any stage, safe swallowing and eating are essential to a person’s health and quality of life.”

Communication and swallowing disorders may occur for a variety of reasons. In children, this may be due to low birth weight, congenital syndromes, developmental disorders, and injuries or illnesses. In adults, they are common in those with a stroke, brain injury, head and neck cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. Although the specific challenges that people experience can vary significantly, one commonality is that most people can improve with the help of a speech-language pathologist.

Here are some specific areas where speech-language pathologists work with students, patients, and clients:

  • Speech—People with speech problems may not say sounds clearly or smoothly. This may make it difficult for others to understand them.
  • Language—A person with a language disorder may have problems with expressing themselves, understanding others, and reading or writing.
  • Cognition—This can involve attention, memory, problem-solving abilities, organizational skills, and judgment difficulties.
  • Voice—Hoarseness, breathiness, pain, frequent coughing, and other problems with a person’s voice may result from medical problems or overuse or misuse (certain professions—like teachers, musicians, and coaches—are at greater risk).
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication—People may need to use other ways to communicate besides talking. These include no- or low-tech and high-tech options such as pointing or gesturing, using picture boards, and speech-generating devices.
  • Feeding and Swallowing—Difficulties may include coughing or gagging during meals, food or liquid leaking from the mouth, or food getting stuck in the mouth or throat. These difficulties may occur due to preterm birth, developmental disabilities, medical conditions, illness, and injury.
  • Gender-Affirming Voice and Communication—This area may focus on pitch, tone, vocal health, nonverbal communication, etc.
  • Communication Coaching—Some SLPs help with public speaking and communication style, including learning another accent.

The process for an evaluation starts with obtaining a medical provider’s order for a referral. After the referral has been placed and received by the rehabilitation department, the patient will be contacted via phone to schedule an appropriate time. On the day of the initial evaluation, the patient will complete a series of assessments based on what difficulties they are experiencing. To learn more about speech, language, and swallowing disorders, please visit or call 937-386-3721.

About Adams County Regional Medical Center

Adams County Regional Medical Center is a 25-bed critical access hospital located near Seaman, Ohio, just 60 miles east of Cincinnati. Adams County Regional Medical Center is a viable and growing state-of-the-art health care facility meeting the needs of Adams County and the surrounding communities, providing a full range of services, including inpatient and outpatient amenities. Adams County Regional Medical Center is Joint Commission certified, focusing on the importance of patient care and organized functions that are essential to providing safe, high-quality care.