Thursday, May 2, 2013

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Parents Advised On How to Detect Communication Disorders in Their Children

Although more than 5 million children in the United States have a speech, language, and hearing disorder, parents are often uninformed and unsure about what to do when they suspect their child may have a communication disorder. This May, and every May since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has used the May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) celebration to provide parents with information about communication disorders to help ensure that they do not seriously affect their children's ability to learn, socialize with others, and be successful in school.
Speech and language problems can occur at any time in a child's life. They can be caused by accidental injury, illness, or inherited by birth. Child speech and language problems include:
§  Stuttering
§  Articulation problems ("wabbit" instead of "rabbit")
§  Language disorders such as the slow development of vocabulary, concepts, and grammar.
§  Voice disorders (nasal, breathy, or hoarse voice and speech that is too high or low)
Parents who suspect their child has a communication disorder should see an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. These professionals identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.  Fortunately, most children with speech, language, and hearing problems can be helped.  Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, a speech language pathologist can teach the child strategies to help them cope with their communication disorders, or provide them with the appropriate technology. By promoting Better Hearing and Speech Month, I hope parents will learn about communication disorders, what they can do to help their children, and how speech-language pathologists can help with their child's communication disorders.
Hearing loss, like speech and language problems, can have a negative impact on a child's social and academic development. Communication disorders like hearing loss in children can occur at birth or as a child grows older due to chronic ear infections or exposure to noise. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious the effects have on the child's development.
Typical signs of a hearing loss in children include:
§  Inconsistently responding to sound
§  Delayed language and speech development
§  Unclear speech
§  Sound is turned up on electronic equipment (radio, TV, CD player, etc.)
§  Does not follow directions
§  Often says "Huh?"
§  Does not respond when called
§  Frequently misunderstands what is said and wants things repeated
As a first step, people who think their child is displaying many of these warning signs and think they may have hearing loss or other hearing disorders should see a certified audiologist. These professionals specialize in preventing, identifying, assessing, and treating hearing disorders. Also, they provide treatment for hearing loss including fitting hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, and they can teach children with hearing loss how to concentrate on hearing all sounds.
ASHA (American Speech Language Hearing Association) recommends that children at risk for hearing loss, such as those who suffer from chronic ear infections or in cases where there is a family history of hearing loss, be screened by a certified audiologist as frequently as needed to ensure they are hearing well. Otherwise, for children ages 5-18, hearing screenings should occur on initial entry into school and annually in kindergarten through 3rd grade as well as in the 7th and 11th grades.  ASHA maintains an online directory of audiology programs that may be accessed at .
Laura A. Michie, M.Ed. M.A., CCC-SLP is an ASHA certified speech language pathologist at Healing Circles Wellness Center.  She identifies, assesses, and treats speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.  To find out more about the services that Laura provides, contact her at, 301-471-3169,
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 166,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists.

10 Tips for Surviving Allergy Season

1) Use a neti pot.  A neti is a nasal irrigation vessel that looks like a genie lamp.  It uses a sea salt solution that washes away allergens from the sinuses and soothes the sinus tissue.  Many allergy sufferers swear by their neti pots.  It should be done every day for those with chronic allergies and sinus issues.  Keeping your neti pot in the shower helps to make it a part of your routine.  Make sure you use bottled water in your neti and not tap water!  The salt is sold in packets as pharmaceutical grade salt.  Sometimes it is helpful to add some anti-microbial herbs into your neti solution if you are prone to sinus infections.

2)  Certain foods can stimulate the inflammatory immune response (aka allergies).  Avoiding these foods as much as possible can have an impact on your degree of symptoms:  sugar, alcohol, dairy, wheat, orange juice, processed foods.  These can all stimulate more mucous production and irritation of the sinuses.  

3)  Certain foods have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Try to incorporate more of these foods: lemons, blueberries, onions, garlic, green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, spinach, etc.), avocado, cayenne and chili pepper, ginger, turmeric

4) If you tend to have sinus congestion, pressure, and headache, sinus steams with essential oils can be incredibly helpful.  Many chronic sinus issues are fungal rather than bacterial, and essential oils have activity against both.  The steam vapor carries the oils into the sinuses.  Pour boiling hot water into a bowl and drop a few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, or sage essential oil into the water.  Cover your head with a towel and inhale deeply, closing your eyes.  Do this until you are tired of it or the steam dissipates.  If sinus pressure is an ongoing issue, try doing sinus steams every day or every other day to loosen the congestion.  

5) Try taking freeze dried stinging nettles in capsule form or nettle leaf tea.  You can also eat the young spring tops of the nettle plant as food. Nettles contain compounds that reduce the inflammatory histamine response in seasonal allergies or hay fever.  They also contain many nutritive vitamins and minerals that nourish the body.

6)  For that irritating post-nasal drip sore throat and cough, try drinking fresh squeezed lemon in water, or 1 T apple cider vinegar in water throughout the day.  These things help the body to clear pollens and mucus from the body and soothe the tissues.  Licorice tea can also be helpful for soothing the throat.

7)  Using raw local honey and pollen is said to be helpful for prevention of allergy symptoms.  The idea is that by eating the pollens you introduce them as food to the body, so the body doesn't overreact to them when they are encountered through the nasal passages.  This method works best if you start with small amounts a couple of months before allergy season begins.

8)  Make sure you are taking probiotics or eating fermented foods (sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi) to help balance your immune system.   Probiotics help to "educate" the immune system to that it is more accurate in its reactions.  This is also a long term strategy that is helpful for all kinds of allergies, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal health.

9) Try taking quercetin on an empty stomach, 500mg 2-3 times per day.  Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid in the vitamin C family that can help prevent mucus production.

10) Turmeric root is another herb that can be helpful for seasonal allergies.  It is highly anti-inflammatory, and aids the liver in processing histamines and clearing toxins from the body.  

Here is a recipe for a yummy tasting allergy tea.  This recipe is kid and husband approved!  It makes a great berry flavored iced tea.  These herbs can all be found in the bulk herb department at the Common Market.  The parts give you the proportions for one full dose (measured in grams), and you can multiply out for however much you want to make:

Nettle leaf            2 parts
Lemon Balm         2 parts
Elderberry             2 parts
Calendula flower    1 part
Licorice root         .5 part
Hibiscus              .5-1 part

8g, steeped in hot water for 10-15min.  Strain and drink, or add honey and cool in fridge for iced tea.  

 Susan Hirsch can be contacted at 301-712-9015 ext. 1016, or

What Does Acupuncture Do?

Acupuncture is new to Healing Circles Wellness Center. Maybe it’s new to you, too. Maybe you are curious and don’t know much about acupuncture. If you are like a lot of people I’ve spoken with, you may be wondering, “What does acupuncture do?”

Our bodies, like everything in the universe, are made up of matter and energy. As modern science is continuing to unravel, there is a continuous relationship between matter and energy--matter becoming energy, energy becoming matter, all the time!

Developed over 4,000 years ago in China, acupuncture corrects imbalances in the energy of the body. This energy is called Qi (pronounced “chee”). They found that by correcting the flow of Qi, they were able to help people heal on a physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual level. Over the course of many centuries, pathways of energy in the body were mapped out and studied. In English, we call these pathways Meridians. When we are feeling great, the pathways of energy in our bodies are in constant graceful motion. These Meridians weave together into a beautiful tapestry bringing life and awareness to every part of our being. When we are stressed out, our energy is locked up in ways that cause us to feel exhausted, hyperactive, overly-emotional, or in pain.

Along these Meridians, there are points where the energy flowing within can be touched. These are the acupuncture points. At these points, your body holds an awareness of a particular energetic movement, one single movement in the dance of energy that is who you are at your best. By inserting a very fine acupuncture needle, we are able to unblock that energy, giving the body a gentle reminder of how to do the dance of life more gracefully.

Acupuncture has the ability to return your body to a “no stress” way of being -- free and easy and you at your best. You have the ability to learn how keep your body in this stress-free state. Acupuncture reminds you what it is like to feel good in your body and lets you escape the cycle of stress and exhaustion so that you can choose how you respond to the stressful events in your life.

 Liz Robinson is an Acupuncturist and just joined Healing Circles Wellness Center. She can be contacted at 301-712-9015 ext. 1046, or