children with hearing problems

Speech and Language Disorders in Children

An Interview with Mike Howland, CEO

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center

What are the main causes of speech and language disorders in children?

Speech and Language disorders may be the result of a variety of etiologies and many disorders have no clear cause but they may include:

  • a motor speech disorder (Apraxia),

    children with hearing problems

    Hearing and speech disorders in children may be caused by a variety of issues. If you think that your child may have a hearing, speech or language disorder, please contact your primary care physician to ask for a referral to the speech & hearing professionals at Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center.

  • a physical/ structural cause (cleft palate, overbite, short frenulum),
  • be a symptom of a syndrome (Down syndrome, Fragile X),
  • a neurological problem (Cerebral Palsy),
  • a traumatic event (traumatic brain injury, lack of oxygen at birth),
  • a sensory deficiency (hearing impairment),
  • Auditory Processing Disorders,
  • intellectual disability,
  • developmental delay,
  • language based learning disability,
  • Autism,
  • environmental deprivation.

In short, there are hundreds of possible causes that can facilitate the need for speech and/or language therapy.

What is the first step I should take if I notice my child’s speech is delayed?

Speak with your Primary Care Doctor about getting a referral for a Hearing Test, if one has not already been completed, as well as a referral for a Speech & Language Evaluation.

How can I tell if my child’s speech and language is on track?

There are expected language behaviors for different ages.  For example, by 1 year of age, a child should use one or two words, follow simple requests (ie. “Come here”), and understand simple questions (ie. “Where are your shoes?”).  By 2-3 years of age, the child should be using two or three words sentences to talk about and ask for things and following two requests (ie. “Get the ball and put it on the table”).  Parents should also understand the child’s speech most of the time. Children are individuals and do develop at slower or faster rates than expected.  What is most important is that the child shows continuous language growth.

For more detailed look at the developmental milestones at each age refer to for the following:

What is the difference between a speech disorder and language impairment?

When a person is unable to articulate or produce speech sounds correctly or fluently (ability to speak without stuttering), or has problems with his or her voice (e.g., hoarseness, vocal nodules), then he or she has a speech disorder.

When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), or interacting and having appropriate social skills with others (pragmatics), then he or she has a language disorder. Both children and adults can have speech and language disorders. They can occur as a result of a medical problem or have no known cause.

How can I help my child with a hearing problem cope at school?

Federal law allows students with hearing loss to have a free and appropriate public education alongside non–disabled students, to the extent possible, up to 12th grade. Even though a child may have a hearing aid or cochlear implant they will probably still need assistive technology, modified acoustics, and accessible teaching strategies to participate fully in noisy classrooms. In post-secondary institutions students must advocate for accessibility through the school administration. Many schools have disabled student offices that can coordinate accessibility requests.

Michael Howland, President and CEO

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center Selects Michael Howland as New CEO

The Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center has selected Michael Howland as its President and CEO. Howland replaces Bill McQuilkin, who retired after five years at the helm.

“We are excited to attract in Mike Howland an energetic, experienced leader who has made a positive impact at every stop of his career,” said Dr. Rick Pepis, Chair of the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center Board of Directors.

The 65-year old organization served 5,390 Northeast Florida residents with speech, hearing and language challenges in its last fiscal year.  Funding for the center, which plans to replace its 50-year old building with a state-of-the-art facility in the same location, comes from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, United Way, City of Jacksonville, Chartrand Foundation, Florida Blue, the Community Foundation in Northeast Florida and individual donors, as well as private pay clientele.

Howland most recently served as Vice President for University Advancement and Chief Strategic Relations Officer at his Jacksonville University alma mater. He previously led the Southeastern Council of Foundations, Noble of Indiana, Christian Service Charities and three related associations of national charities, Independent Charities of America and the San Francisco District and Region of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition to his undergraduate degree from JU, where he served as president of the student body and alumni association, and on the JU Board of Trustees, Howland earned Juris Doctor and Master of Arts-Public Administration degrees from St. Louis University. He and his wife, Cathy, have three children, including daughter Madeline, a nursing student at JU.

We invite you to connect with Mike on LinkedIn.

prevent hearing loss with earplugs

Audiology Awareness to Prevent Hearing Loss

October is National Audiology Awareness Month

Hearing loss is an increasing health concern that is often preventable. Noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss and can result in difficulty sleeping and high blood pressure. Noise induced hearing loss occurs gradually and without pain. Experts agree that regular exposure to sounds of 85 decibels or louder are detrimental to hearing.

The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable!

Here are 3 key steps you can take to prevent hearing loss:

1. Make sure to take proper precautions with your hearing should you find yourself in a situation with large amounts of noise.

2. Use ear protection whenever possible, particularly when working with loud machinery such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and jackhammers.

3. If you plan on attending a concert or sporting event, make sure to protect your ears! Recent statistics suggest a trend of noise induced hearing loss occurring at younger ages. Ear plugs and earmuffs for noise protection can be purchased at your local drug, hardware, or sporting goods store.

Our doctoral level licensed audiologists can assess your hearing. Earplugs are also available for purchase!

For more information on healthy hearing, check out the link below from the American Academy of Audiology.


Join us for FinFest Saturday, October 4

There is still time to purchase a ticket for FinFest on Saturday, October 4!

FinFest at Sawgrass Marriott is the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center’s annual fundraiser. Attendees can expect wonderful cuisine, cool beverages and a riveting silent and live auction – all for a wonderful cause: to benefit the children, adults and seniors in Northeast Florida who are in need of speech, language and/or hearing needs.

Purchase your ticket by clicking HERE.


FinFest at Sawgrass

The Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center will host its premiere event, FinFest at Sawgrass, on Saturday, October 4, at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa located in Ponte Vedra Beach. We are honored to once again have Acosta Sales and Marketing as our Presenting Sponsor and Robert and Margaret Hill as honorary event Co-Chairs.

FinFest at Sawgrass is sure to be an amazing event! Guests will enjoy great eats, drinks, dancing, and a riveting silent and live auction. Auction items include overnight stays in Hawaii, art, entertainment packages, and so much more! Entertainment will be provided by KTG Musical Entertainment, a high-energy dance band known for their live horns, musical excellence, and stage presence.

Tickets for FinFest at Sawgrass are $125 for adults and $75 for young professionals (under 40). Tickets for the event can be purchased online on our website Funds raised from the event will directly fund our mission of providing the highest quality professional and compassionate care to all individuals with speech, hearing, and or language disorders in our community. We hope to see you there!

Questions about FinFest at Sawgrass? Contact Janet Streit at

Join in on the conversation on Twitter at #JSHCFinfest.


speech and hearing jacksonville

Is Hearing Loss Making You Depressed?

There is new research that connects hearing loss with depression among American adults.  There are good reasons why depression and hearing loss can go together:  When it gets harder to hear what is being said by our friends, business associates, and family members, the frequent reaction can be a choice to stay away from these interactions and avoid having to ask someone to repeat herself or to look foolish or senile.  This leads to personal isolation and the onset of depression.

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Happy Child! Happy Mom! Speech Therapy Helps Jalen.

Jalen was just three years old when he first came to the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center (JSHC) with his mother.  His language abilities left Jalen frustrated; he had no way to communicate with his peers or express his needs.  His mother persevered, working diligently with Jalen week after week at home and JSHC on speech therapy.

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