The beginning of the school year is certainly a busy and exciting time. You’ve bought new school supplies, met the teachers, and maybe even turned to Google to figure out how to do your third grader’s homework! With all this on your mind, it can be easy to overlook things such as hearing health; however, there are plenty of reasons why it should be a priority for your school-aged children or grandchildren.
Here are some things to keep in mind about hearing health during this school year:
Know the signs. According to the Center for Disease Control, some signs of hearing loss in children include:
- Delayed or unclear speech
- Doesn’t follow directions
- Often says, “Huh?” or “What?”
- Turns the TV volume up too high
Untreated hearing loss can have a major impact on school performance. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hearing loss can have a major impact on how a child performs in school. Children with hearing difficulties are at-risk for delayed development of vocabulary, sentence structure, speech, social skills, and especially grades. Even children with unilateral hearing loss (a loss in just one ear) are ten times more likely to fail a grade than their peers. A lack of hearing ability means it is more difficult for children to pick up speech and language around them, and they begin to fall behind. Early intervention is key to preventing hearing loss from widening this gap.
Sporting events are hard on the ears. Whether your children are in the game or cheering on the sidelines, sporting events can be severely damaging to their hearing! With the marching band playing, the crowd yelling, and the cheerleaders cheering, sporting events can easily reach dangerous decibel levels. Make sure your child is wearing the appropriate hearing protection to protect them from this unsafe noise.
It’s easy to mistake hearing loss for lack of attention. Did you know that hearing loss and Auditory Processing Disorder share many symptoms with Attention Deficit Disorder? If it seems like your child isn’t listening or following instructions, it could be because they simply can’t hear or understand you. If you or any teachers have concerns about your child paying attention in class, make sure to address their hearing health as well.
Turn down the volume on all devices. Children and teens are showing signs of hearing loss at an increasing rate due to noise-induced hearing loss. Listening to electronic devices at an unsafe volume greatly contributes to this problem, especially when the listener is using headphones or earbuds. Many devices are only safe to listen to at 60% volume. Make sure your teens aren’t blasting music during a study session, and teach your children about safe listening habits. There are even ways you can limit the volume on your kid’s devices!
Hearing loss can go unnoticed during routine check-ups. While many children receive hearing screenings at school or at their regular doctor visits, these screenings do not always give an accurate account of hearing ability. Different from the school nurse or pediatrician, an audiologist specializes in identifying and diagnosing conditions of the ear and appropriate treatment.
Hearing loss affects socialization. Children with hearing loss often report feelings of isolation in school. In fact, between one in three and one in five students with hearing loss are bullied at school, which is significantly higher than the one in ten average for children without hearing loss.
There are solutions. While most hearing loss is not reversible, there are treatment options available. Hearing aid technology is always advancing, and there are more ways than ever to treat hearing loss in children. FM transmitters are also good options for the classroom. With an FM transmitter, the speaker (such as the teacher) wears a microphone that can transmit directly to the student’s hearing aids or a receiver they can wear.
Talk to the teachers. It’s important that you and your children’s teachers are on the same page when it comes to hearing health. Traditional classrooms are busy and they are not always easy listening environments to begin with. For a child with hearing loss, it can be extremely difficult to hear the teacher’s voice. Make sure to address your concerns about your child’s specific needs as well as hearing safety in the classroom.
Talk to your children. It’s never too early to teach your children about how to care for their hearing. One of the biggest barriers to healthy hearing is a lack of education and awareness on the matter, so it is important your children are informed as soon as possible. Even if your own child doesn’t have any hearing difficulties, someone in their classroom might!
The CDC states that children with hearing loss are more likely to reach their full potential the earlier it is addressed and treated.
There’s no better time to check your child’s hearing health. Schedule an appointment today!