May is dedicated to speech, hearing, and vision health

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Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) dedicates the month of May to raising public awareness about communication health. May is also Vision Health Month. Today we’re looking at FASD and the impacts of prenatal alcohol exposure on speech, hearing, and vision.

FASD and Speech, Hearing and Vision

People with FASD can have problems with communication, vision, or hearing because of prenatal alcohol exposure. In one study, researchers found that 53% of young adults with FASD had problems with their vision and visual perception. When children have hearing loss, it can affect their speech and communication.

Early intervention can help alleviate these symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with FASD. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are designated professionals who can assist people with communication difficulties. Audiologists can help with hearing and balance issues. Optometrist can identify and assist with any vision problems.

Being FASD-Informed

All professionals engaging with patients with FASD should be familiar with FASD and its diagnosis, including SLPs, audiologists and optometrists. Knowing the signs and indicators of FASD can help identify potential cases of FASD early in childhood and even into adulthood. When professionals are sensitive to the needs and requirements of patients with FASD, it can improve the patients’ experience and their outcomes.

Health care teams involved in speech, hearing and vision care should also listen to the patient’s family and caregivers, as they know what works best for their child or dependant. Support may include providing a quiet, light-sensitive environment to address any sensory needs or reducing or eliminating wait times for patients with FASD.

Speak, Hear and See Well

Speech, hearing, and vision are important aspects of our overall health. Although people with FASD may be at higher risk for problems in these areas, early recognition and support can help. To effectively support all their patients, healthcare workers need to be FASD-informed and trained in best practices.

If you are interested in FASD-specific training courses, check out the list of online learning programs that CanFASD provides. Become a member of CanFASD to stay informed and stay connected with FASD research in Canada. 

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