Back to School: Why You Should Add a Hearing Test to the CheckList

Is your child starting school this year?  Are they a few years in and you’re scratching your head wondering why their reports are not as good as you expected?  Did you know that 30% of children have some degree of hearing loss at least temporarily in Kindergarten to Year 2?

Most babies have their hearing checked as newborns before leaving hospital, but this doesn’t rule out hearing problems as they get older unfortunately.  Here are some issues that may not become evident until your child starts school:

  1. Conductive Hearing LossA build up of fluid in the middle ear is the most common cause of hearing loss in children.  Often the child will not report feeling any pain or discomfort, but they may be asking for a lot of repeats, and their speech may sound muffled, especially for sounds like /m/.  This kind of hearing loss may also fluctuate from day to day, so it is difficult to identify without a hearing test.  Click here for more information.
  2. Mild Hearing Loss:  The hearing screening performed on newborn babies does not rule out a mild hearing loss. A mild hearing loss may only affect the ability to hear soft sounds, and certain parts of speech.  In this case, your child will follow speech fine in quiet situations, but may have more difficulty following things correctly in a noisy environment.
  3. Progressive Hearing Loss:  Some children acquire a hearing loss as they get older.  This may develop slowly, and may not cause any problems until the child is in demanding listening situations such as the classroom.
  4. Auditory Processing Disorders: Sometimes, a child’s hearing at the inner ear is fine, so they’ll have “normal” hearing according to a standard hearing test  but they have a lot of difficulty hearing in noisy environments, or they have a lot of difficulty absorbing new information in the classroom.  Auditory Processing refers to how the brain takes the sound from the sound and processes it.  That is, how it takes the sound from each ear individually and puts it together, and how it separates what we want to hear from background noise.  Children who have a history of conductive hearing loss are more susceptible to Auditory Processing Disorders. For more information on how we assess and treat Auditory Processing Disorders, click here.

It is never too soon to be checking your child’s hearing. Pittwater Hearing assesses children from 8 months of age.  If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment for your child, please contact us.