By Margaret Glenny This article is a part of the July/August 2018, Volume 30, Number 4, Audiology Today issue. How do we learn to speak? It was my fascination with that question that brought me to my specific studies in higher education and to my occupation. First of all, we’re not born speaking. The newborn, however, is acutely aware of its surroundings with all five senses: hearing, seeing, touching or feeling, smelling, and tasting. And, I happen to think that hearing might be the most important in that line up for us homo sapiens. It is likely one of the reasons I became an audiologist. What is critical for normal speech and language development? Hearing. Hearing is essential, so much so that Marion Downs, who I like to call the mother of audiology, was largely responsible for the fact that today, in the United States, ALL babies have their hearing screened before they leave the hospital. Audiology is a young profession, only realizing a clinical role largely after World War II. Before that, we were largely hearing scientists and psycho-acousticians confined to the laboratory, busy accumulating normative data, developing tests of auditory function, and doing research to better understand the auditory system. and, we’ve made a lot of headway. However, in the present, we are now struggling with hearing issues that bear a multitude of labels—central auditory processing disorders, auditory neuropathy, and hyperacusis, just to name a few that are floating in our sphere. At the same time, labels potentially identifying hearing and listening issues and “sensory” processing problems have burgeoned in other related professions and other fields of study—attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism “on the spectrum” (including Aspergers), sensory processing disorders (SPD), pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), learning disabilities, language disorders, apraxia, reading disorders, and the list keeps growing. One of the newest on the scene is social communication disorder (SCD). What is going on? What if all of these issues, or the vast majority of them, have something to do with compromised hearing? This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!