Posted on Monday, January 07, 2013

Recognizing Students with Hearing Loss

Female student with headphones takes test for hearing loss.

Hearing loss among U.S. adolescents and younger children has risen thirty percent in recent years. Unfortunately, recognizing students with hearing loss is often a difficult and confusing task. The lack of information around childhood hearing loss means that many years can pass before a student is diagnosed and treated.

Often it is assumed that recognizing students with hearing loss is easily done by an observant parent or school hearing screenings. This works with vision--a test, teacher, or parent can identify a child squinting at the blackboard or misreading a poster, but students with hearing loss are often misunderstood, even berated for being easily distracted or not paying attention. In fact asking to have things repeated, being irresponsive when called is often misunderstood as ADD or ignored as typical childhood behavior. Learning to recognize students with hearing loss is a serious problem, because even a small change in hearing can result in huge decreases in performance in school leading to self-esteem, social and emotional problems. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “Hearing loss is common and, in young persons, can compromise social development, communication skills, and educational achievement.”

Students with undiagnosed childhood hearing loss have lower self esteem, have more problems in school, and tend to isolate themselves.

ADD and undiagnosed childhood hearing loss share many similar symptoms like: difficulty paying attention, inattentiveness, responding inappropriately to questions, academic problems, and poor self-image. Comprehensive testing can be used to identify students with hearing loss, but they need to be performed by a board certified audiologists. Recognizing a student with hearing loss is the first step in getting them assistance. According to MSU, “numerous studies have shown improvement in attention, understanding directions, classroom participation and school behavior” when fitted with hearing aids. Hearing aids can help children pay attention in school.

“Every teacher in the early elementary school can expect to have one-fourth to one-third of his or her students without normal hearing on any given day.” Michigan State University

As the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association points out, “Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed hearing loss can result in problems as the child may know something is not quite right but is not getting the proper professional attention.” It might not be just the child who is confused. Most parents and teachers aren't familiar with the common signs of childhood hearing loss. It’s unfortunate that this confusion persists when the fundamentals of good eye care and the necessity of yearly optometrist visits are well established; comparatively, few parents ever take their child to an audiologist.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!


Author unknown (n.d.) EFFECTS OF MINIMAL HEARING LOSS ON STUDENT PERFORMANCE IN THE CLASSROOM taken on Oct 6, 2011 retrieved from: https://www.msu.edu/~huffma23/

Shargorodsky Josef, MD, MPH; Curhan G. Sharon, MD, ScM; Curhan C. Gary, MD, ScD; Eavey Roland, MD, SM 2010;304(7):772-778. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1124 taken on Oct 6, 2011 retrieved from: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/304/7/772.full

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2011), Childhood Hearing Loss, taken on Oct 6, 2011 retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/AIS-Hearing-Loss-Childhood.pdf

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