These days children always seem to be taking a test. Testing to determine where they are in reading or math. Testing to see if they’re hitting certain milestones. But what about hearing testing? It’s easy to write hearing screenings off as unnecessary after they’ve had one as an infant or before they head into kindergarten, but the truth is, that belief may leave many children with hearing loss undiagnosed and at risk.
Recent research is highlighting the importance of child hearing screenings, and where more study is needed to make them a reality.
Children and hearing loss
It’s no secret that hearing loss can have a big impact on a child’s development. Research has found that without early diagnosis and intervention, kids with hearing loss may face delayed language and speech, problems with social interaction and development and, even hampered academic success.
While it’s always a good idea to track milestones and behaviors to catch hearing loss as early as possible, professional hearing evaluations and regular hearing screenings are essential. This belief was the basis for a recent study in North Carolina.
School hearing screenings
According to the study findings, the standard hearing screenings in North Carolina schools before starting public school in kindergarten and often in kindergarten and third grade may not be enough.
In the study, almost 1,200 children in kindergarten (K) through ninth grade at a charter school were screened. Approximately 850 children (K to eighth grade) were then screened two years later. The children were tested at varying levels (1, 2, 4, and 6 kHz at 20 dB HL) at least twice before results were confirmed. Those that failed were immediately rescreened. If they still failed to respond, the children were rescreened three weeks later by another professional. If they again failed to respond, they were referred out for diagnostic testing.
What researchers found was that not only could regular school hearing screenings catch hearing loss early, it could also identify those with outer and middle ear problems that need attention. The study also highlighted the need for further research into the best universal criteria to use in hearing screenings at schools across the country. Finally, future study into the barriers that may prevent families from following up with hearing health care professionals when a potential hearing loss has been identified in a child was seen as an important next step.
Does your child have a hearing loss?
While regular hearing evaluations are the best way to determine if your child has a hearing loss, certain telltale signs can alert you to a hearing impairment, including:
If you notice any of these signs or receive notice from your child’s school that a hearing screening has indicated a hearing loss, contact a hearing healthcare provider to begin treating it as soon as possible.
Do you have questions about your child’s hearing or want to schedule a hearing evaluation for yourself or them? Contact our office to learn more.