NACOGDOCHES, Texas - In recognition of Better Hearing and Speech Month, Stephen F. Austin State University's Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders is offering guidance on how to recognize communication disorders and ways to treat them.

"Development of strong communication skills is extremely important," said Deena Petersen, center director. "Yet common misconceptions remain. One misconception is children generally outgrow speech or language difficulties. Unfortunately, this often delays treatment."

With speech and language disorders ranking among the most common disabilities in children, parents and caregivers are encouraged to learn the signs and seek an evaluation if they have concerns about their child's ability to communicate, Petersen explained.

"Some children are indeed late bloomers, yet treatment is frequently necessary," Petersen said. "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."

SFA graduate students studying speech-language pathology work with and observe clients in the center to practice their skills and offer services to the community.

Petersen said parents with young children should watch for these warning signs: does not babble, only makes a few sounds or gestures, doesn't understand what others say, produces speech that is unclear. For parents with children in school, the warning signs include trouble following directions, problems reading and writing, doesn't understand others, is not understood by others, and trouble talking about thoughts or feelings. More warning signs are detailed at and

SFA's Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders offers these tips to encourage a child's communication development: talking, reading and playing with your child, using many different words, using longer sentences as your child gets older, having your child retell stories, talking with your child about your daily activities, and giving him/her opportunities to write.

Nacogdoches residents who want to schedule an assessment with SFA's Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders should call (936) 468-7109.

To learn more about SFA's speech-language pathology program, visit For more information about the center, visit