Throughout the month of May, The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) will celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month. Created by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 1927, this special month aims to raise awareness and promote understanding around communication disorders. At NECC, this month is especially relevant.

“Any awareness we can bring to how our students best communicate, whether that is through an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device or through verbal speech or through sign language, we just want the world to know that not all communication looks the same. Our students really need systematic and thoughtful support on what communication system is going to fit best for them,” says NECC speech-language pathologist (SLP), Meryl McGrath about the importance of Better Hearing and Speech Month.

Meryl’s department, the Speech and Language Department, is composed of a team of SLPs who work collaboratively with students to help improve their communication skills. Helping students use AAC devices is a core piece of their work. AAC devices can take on many forms. On the low-tech end of the spectrum are paper boards, which are laminated pieces of paper with pictures on it. On the high-tech end of things are iPads with an app on them that generates speech. In both cases, the goal is the same: help students, who may otherwise not be able to, express their wants and needs.

“Communication is the foundation of everything we do, and it’s the same for our students,” explains McGrath. “They need a way to both receive information and express themselves.”

Learn more about the importance of Better Hearing and Speech Month at NECC:

About The New England Center for Children

The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) is a private, nonprofit center providing evidence-based treatment and services for children with autism. Programs include in-home ABA therapy for infants and toddlers, a full-service day school for children age 4-22, and a safe, structured residential program that seamlessly integrates with the day school. NECC also oversees special education classrooms in public schools throughout New England and consults with families around the world. The technology division has patented its curriculum – the Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia® (ACE®) ABA Software System – which is used by more than 8,000 learners worldwide. 

NECC is committed to diversity and staff professional development, partnering with local colleges to provide on-site graduate training and degrees at little to no cost to the NECC teacher. The result is a growing pool of exceptional teachers trained in best-in-class methodologies, whether they continue their careers at NECC or move on to public schools or private agencies. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at