Sonja Pruitt-Lord: Improving Outcomes for Parents

"We forget sometimes how easy it is to talk about something that we’re passionate about."

Sonja Pruitt-Lord

As a speech-language pathologist and associate professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at San Diego State University, Sonja Pruitt-Lord studies child language development with the aim of developing prevention models for at-risk populations.

For that reason, it’s no surprise that she is interested in raising awareness of the importance of early detection and intervention in treating young children with communication disorders. At the end of last year, Pruitt-Lord was instrumental in spreading the early detection message of the Identify the Signs campaign in San Diego by conducting public TV and radio interviews with the local PBS affiliate. Her passion and knowledge allowed her to speak easily and eloquently about the early warning signs of communication disorders and where people can turn for help.

“Once I was asked, I chose to participate because I think it’s important and it fits in line with my research and clinical passions,” says Pruitt-Lord. “I don’t think enough people who aren’t affected by speech, language, and hearing impairments know what our field does, nor do they know what to do if a loved one is experiencing some of these communication impairments.”

Although she was originally approached by ASHA to conduct the interviews, Pruitt-Lord quickly signed on to the public awareness raising efforts. She had two main goals for her media appearances: encouraging parents to help their children seek professional communication help earlier and reminding health professionals that speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help improve outcomes for patients with communication disorders. To those ends, she saw success—citing stories where neighbors and students said they saw the interviews, learned from them, and shared the information with their friends and family members.

“I would recommend serving as a media source to any ASHA member,” says Pruitt-Lord. “We forget sometimes how easy it is to talk about something that we’re passionate about. ASHA really makes it easy to know what to say and how to say it in consumer-friendly terms.”

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