February 24, 2021
(Rockville, MD) Parents and caregivers who have concerns about their child’s speech and language development have a new, free, and easy resource to lean on, as announced today by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Identify the Signs campaign and Bright by Text.
View the Spanish version of this press release.
Designed for families of children ages 2–6, the new offering provides parents and caregivers timely text messages about expected speech and language milestones, warning signs of a speech or language delay or disorder, suggested activities for encouraging speech and language development at home, messages of support and encouragement for parents, and information on how to get connected with professional help and treatment.
Families can sign up by texting TALK to 274-448 for free resources and tips. At no point will the service share families’ information or try to sell them anything. Messages are available in both English and Spanish.
This unique and innovative effort is a collaboration between two nationally-recognized groups: ASHA, the national association for speech/language and hearing professionals, and Bright by Text, a national nonprofit that sends parents and caregivers tips by text message timed to a child’s exact age.
Speech and language disorders are among the most common disorders that young children experience. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 11% of children ages 3–6 have a speech, language, voice or swallowing disorder. Speech or language impairment is also the most common disability category for which children ages 3–5 receive services through the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. IDEA is the federal law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities, from birth through age 21.
Most speech and language disorders are highly treatable, but the earlier parents and caregivers seek help for their child, the better. Treatment by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is widely available, often for free or at low cost, through IDEA. Many private SLPs also treat these conditions. (A searchable database is available at www.asha.org/profind.)
“We know that many parents have concerns about their child’s speech and language development, but for a variety of reasons, they may adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach and delay seeking treatment for months or even years,” said A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2021 ASHA President. “Often this is a result of well-meaning family members, friends, or even professionals dismissing their concerns. However, parents absolutely know their child best, and we always encourage them to trust their gut on matters related to their child’s speech and language development. When treatment begins early, it generally takes less time, is less expensive, and offers the greatest chances for improvement for any speech or language disorder.”
This targeted speech and language resource is part of the larger Bright by Text program, which delivers actionable information from trusted early childhood experts to parents/caregivers of children from prenatal to age eight. The information is designed to support healthy child development and build strong, resilient families. Topics covered by the larger Bright by Text service include physical and mental health, social-emotional wellbeing, safety, brain development, connections, encouragement and more.
A recent survey on special healthcare or educational needs found speech and language was the top concern for Bright by Text subscribers, driving the development of this specialized new service at this critical time for families of young children.
“With so many young children at home and out of traditional daycare or preschool programs due to the pandemic, some parents are worried about reduced daily opportunities for children to grow and practice verbal and social skills,” noted Jodie Fishman, MPH, MCHES, Chief Content Officer of Bright by Text. “There may also be less opportunity for teachers to flag children who may be a bit behind at this time. The new offering is a great way for parents to educate and empower themselves about their child’s communication development. While the cause of a child’s speech or language delay is often unknown, parents and caregivers can be a big part of the solution. We hope this provides valuable assistance to families with concerns.”
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.
About Bright by Text
Bright by Text is a nationwide text messaging service that helps parents and caregivers of children prenatal to age 8 make the most of everyday interactions. Through free tips, information, games, and resources, Bright by Text is proven to build nurturing caregiver–child relationships, strengthen families, promote healthy child development, and improve school readiness. https://brightbytext.org/