With close to 15% of U.S. children ages 6–19 experiencing hearing loss, UMMC's Ear, Nose and Throat Department notes that May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month is the ideal time for parents to learn more about the sometimes-subtle signs of hearing loss, ways it can affect school-aged children, and where to find help.
“Some children are born with hearing loss, but it can also be acquired afterwards—from ear infections, illnesses, certain medications, noise exposure, and a variety of other causes,” said Dr. Vicki Gonzalez, Division Chief of Audiology at UMMC. “Those signs aren’t always immediately obvious to parents, but even mild hearing loss can have significant consequences for children in school. If parents have had concerns but haven’t sought a hearing evaluation yet, let Better Hearing & Speech Month—celebrated in May—be the time to take the next step.”
Hearing loss can affect a child’s success in school in various ways. These include problems with language arts, vocabulary, reading, math, and problem solving as well as lower scores on achievement and verbal IQ tests. It can also contribute to social and behavioral problems inside and outside the classroom.
“Hearing screenings are conducted periodically in schools, which is an important way that we identify children with hearing loss that may have gone unnoticed because it is less severe, late onset, or misdiagnosed,” said Dr. Gonzalez. “However, if a parent has any concern, they shouldn’t wait for periodic school screenings. Children with mild to moderate hearing loss can achieve one to four grade levels lower, on average, than their peers with normal hearing—unless appropriate management occurs—making timely intervention critical.”
To help a child with hearing loss reach their full academic potential, Dr. Gonzalez recommends the following to parents:
If you would like a hearing evaluation for your child, contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at (601) 815-4368.