It was children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman who said, “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

I agree that making a difference in a person’s life doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and continuous hard work to see progress.

In the fields of speech pathology and audiology, making a difference takes hard work from clients and practitioners. It takes compassion and a commitment to make such a difference. That is what is being recognized in May.

Better Hearing and Speech Month in May raises awareness about communication disorders, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website. The month also highlights the role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment.

This year’s theme is “Communication Across the Lifespan.” This theme is fitting because ASHA members across the country, including on Guam, strive to improve the communication skills of individuals of all ages and backgrounds. They also strive to have a positive impact that lasts a lifetime.

During May, the Marianas Alliance of Speech-Language and Hearing Professionals (MASHP) also would like to remind our island community of the commitment of speech pathologists and audiologists to serve Guam.

Working together, those professionals assist individuals with various kinds of communication impairments, from stuttering to difficulty articulating sounds.

Speech therapists help individuals in schools, hospitals, and private practice. At public schools, services are provided to students who have communication disorders. In hospitals, patients are treated for dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing. In private practice, speech therapists plan and conduct activities to improve individuals’ speaking, listening, and other language skills.

In addition, speech therapists aid others as they build their oral and written communication skills. The therapists help their clients expand vocabularies, better understand language components, and improve the application of parts of speech. With the support of therapists, adults and children develop their social skills to be more effective and confident communicators in a variety of social settings.

Speech therapists work closely with audiologists. Audiology helps a variety of individuals with hearing impairments, from birth to the end of life. Audiologists work to identify and diagnose hearing disorders. Audiologists also make recommendations or interventions for rehabilitation. Part of the rehabilitation includes hearing aids and cochlear implants.

As practitioners, we all serve the entire community of Guam, from children to adults. Although we highlight our commitment to the community in May, we aim to improve communication for all throughout the year.

John Payne II is a MASHP member.

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