With speech and language disorders ranking among the most common disabilities in children, parents and caregivers are encouraged to learn the signs and seek evaluation at the Health Services Authority’s (HSA’s) Speech Therapy Open House this month if they have concerns about their child’s ability to communicate.Complimentary developmental screenings for children and cognitive-linguistic screenings for adults will be provided at the free event on Friday, 17 May at 8:30am – 11:00am at the Cayman Islands Hospital’s Speech Therapy Office. No appointments are required.Speech-language pathologists (SLPs)evaluate and treat speech and language disorders in both children and adults. HSA’s SLPs Faith Gealey and Raven Ramoon offer the timely event for families because May is recognised as Better Hearing and Speech Month. The annual observance provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the life-altering treatments that are available.“Development of strong communication skills is extremely important—and parents anxiously await their child’s first words,” said Ms Gealey. “Yet common misconceptions remain. One is that children generally ‘grow out’ of speech or language difficulties. Unfortunately, this mistaken impression too often delays treatment. Of course, some children are indeed ‘late bloomers,’ yet treatment is frequently necessary, too. Good communication skills are critical, helping with behavior, learning, reading, social skills, and friendships. It is much easier, more effective, and less costly to treat speech and language disorders early—and May is a great time to educate parents on this important point.”Adults with speech and language disorders or their loved ones are also welcome. “Many people may not appreciate their ability to communicate until it’s lost,” said Ms Ramoon. “From having your basic needs met to nurturing relationships and earning a living, communication is at the core.”Speech and language problems in adults can result from various causes. They include brain injury, stroke, and diseases that affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. They can also stem from breathing problems, cancers in the head and/or neck region and voice damage.For persons interested in learning more about speech therapy, the SLPs will also host a Lunch and Learn on the topic, “Speech Therapy Assessments Across the Lifespan” on Tuesday, 28 May at 11:30am - 1:30pm in the Cayman Islands Hibiscus Conference Room. All are invited to attend and Continuing Medical Education credits will be available. Please RSVP to faith.gealey@hsa.ky to confirm your attendance by Friday, 24 May.