Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reading Rockets: Healthy Hearing

Before children learn to read, they learn the sounds of their language by listening and speaking. These skills provide the foundation for later literacy. A child with hearing impairment has trouble processing or expressing language, and is likely to have difficulty learning to read. An estimated 10-15 percent of all school-aged children have some type of hearing loss. Some of these children are born with a hearing problem, but healthy young children can develop hearing loss at any time as a result of:
  • frequent ear infections,
  • infectious diseases like measles, meningitis, or flu,
  • head injury,
  • exposure to loud noise or music.
Many children with acquired hearing loss are not diagnosed properly or early enough. Learn the signs that your child may have developed a hearing problem.
  • You have to raise your voice consistently to get your child's attention.
  • Your child complains of ear pain or is pulling on his ear.
  • Your child watches your face carefully when you are talking and turns his head so that one ear is facing the direction of your voice.
  • Your child frequently asks for things to be repeated.
  • Your child talks in an unusually soft or loud voice.
  • Your child turns up the television or CD player louder than usual.
  • Your child confuses sounds that are alike, and is having problems with spelling and phonics.
  • Your child seems inattentive at home or at school, and may say he doesn't like school.
If you or your child's teacher suspects that your child has a hearing problem, first visit your pediatrician for a check up. An ear infection requires immediate treatment.
Have your child's hearing evaluated by a certified audiologist, who will determine the severity of the hearing loss.
If your child acquires a long-term or permanent hearing loss, you should seek out a certified speech-language pathologist who will measure your child's speech and language skills and help develop special remedial programs, if needed.
More resources:
  • To find a certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's online directory.
  • ASHA also offers Listen to Your Buds, a website that teaches children to protect their hearing through safe use of portable audio players.
  • For more information on speech, language, and hearing, visit
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