Early Hearing Assessment In School Children Is Vital
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Early Hearing Assessment In School Children Is Vital

Early Hearing Assessment In School Children Is Vital. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Dr Sebastian Hendricks, consultant in paediatric audiovestibular medicine at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and Medical Director (Hearing) of Thomson Screening. Dr Hendricks will explore why all schools need to think about their students hearing. Undiagnosed hearing loss, even mild hearing loss, can lead to behavioural issues and reduced learning outcomes, as Jordan’s story illustrates. (The story is real, but the children’s names have been changed).

Early Hearing Assessment In School Children Is Vital

If a child is deaf, this becomes apparent very quickly. However, a less severe hearing difficulty can go unnoticed for some time. To illustrate the importance of picking up on any hearing issues a child may have, this is Jordan’s story:

Jordon’s Story: A Hearing Journey

Jordan was a happy and friendly child who loved to learn new things and play with his friends. He was always curious and eager to explore the world around him. But something changed when Jordan was four years old. He started to have trouble paying attention, sitting still, and following instructions. Jordan would often daydream, get frustrated easily, and shout at people. Sometimes, he would even get aggressive and hit or bite others. His parents and teachers thought Jordan might have a problem, such as ADHD or autism, but they didn’t know what to do.

They tried to talk to Jordan, but he didn’t seem to listen. They tried to use discipline, but Jordan didn’t seem to understand or care. His parents tried to help, but Jordan didn’t seem to want it. They asked Jordan what he wanted, but they didn’t get an answer.

One day, some people from the school entry hearing screening team, using specialist SchoolScreener software, showed up at the school to check all the children’s hearing. They used a unique device developed by Thomson Screening to measure how well the children could hear different sounds. When it was his turn, Jordan put on the headphones and waited for the sounds. But he didn’t respond to anything. Jordan thought it was a game, so he pressed the button randomly. The screening team noticed that he didn’t pass the test and suspected that Jordan might have a hearing problem.

They referred Jordan to the local paediatric audiology team, who confirmed his conductive hearing loss. This means that the sound waves could not reach Jordan’s inner ear because fluid was in his middle ear. This made everything sound muffled and distorted, even affecting his speech and language development.

Jordon’s Path To Hearing and Happiness

The audiology team explained that Jordan needed ventilation tubes inserted in his ears to drain the fluid and restore his hearing. However, they also said that the waiting time for this procedure was 4-6 months, and they didn’t want to delay Jordan’s treatment. So, the audiologists offered Jordan a bone conduction hearing aid, a device that bypasses the middle ear and sends the sound vibrations directly to the inner ear through the skull.

They fitted Jordan with the hearing aid and turned it on. Immediately, Jordan could hear sounds he hadn’t heard for a long time. He could even hear his voice. Jordan was amazed and delighted at hearing the voices of his parents and the audiology team. However, it was all too much at first, and Jordan took the device off, feeling overwhelmed. Later, he tried again and outside, he heard the sounds of the birds and the cars in the distance. He heard music and laughter. He heard the world.

From then on, Jordan wore the hearing aid daily, except when it was deafening, and everyone noticed a big difference. Jordan could hear what people were saying, and he could respond. Jordan could follow instructions and complete tasks. He could join conversations, make jokes, play with his friends, and share his feelings. Jordan was back to being the happy and friendly child he used to be. He was grateful to the school entry hearing screening and audiology teams for discovering his problem and helping him. Jordan was proud of himself for overcoming his challenges and learning new skills. Finally, Jordan was happy.

Identifying Hearing Issues Can Be Challenging

Children and young people can present in many different ways if they cannot hear. Some only have difficulties with certain voices, so having a very low threshold for suggesting that a child have a hearing assessment or hearing check is very helpful. Also, normal hearing last week can still mean a cold can make tomorrow difficult. Even permanent hearing losses can develop and progress over time.

In The Classroom

A microphone for the teacher and speakers at the back of the classroom help pupils understand better. They also enable a teacher’s voice to stay quieter, therefore calmer and more precise. Shouting does not help anyone with hearing problems.

Good classroom acoustics are also important. Bare glass or concrete walls generate echoes (increase reverberation) and degrade the sound information.

Most people can lip-read to some extent, some better than others. Being able to see a teacher’s face well when they are talking really helps. So, asking someone to listen and write at the same time disadvantages everyone with hearing problems, even if they wear hearing aids. Hearing aids make things louder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the sound is as normal.

Takeaway

Please be curious and think HEARING. Teachers can make such a positive difference to children with hearing difficulties.

If you have a school entry hearing screen team coming, please help them find a quiet room for testing and support them in seeing all the children.

More Help And Resources:

The local sensory impairment team and Teachers of the Deaf (ToDs) from the local authority

The Ewing Foundation (ewing-foundation.org.uk) offers help with classroom acoustics and education

Connevans School Soundfield (www.connevans.co.uk/catalogue/12/School-Soundfield)

The National Deaf Children Society: Improving listening conditions and reducing background noise (ndcs.org.uk)

Hearing tests that can be administered by non-clinical staff within the school: www.schoolscreenerforschools.com

I hope you enjoyed that.

Talk Soon.

About The Author

Dr Sebastian Hendricks is a consultant in paediatric audiovestibular medicine at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children & Medical Director (Hearing) of Thomson Screening. Sebastian has a dual accreditation as a specialist in paediatrics and audiovestibular medicine.

Thomson Screening’s SchoolScreener software is used in over 5,000 schools by NHS (non-clinical staff) screening KS1 children’s hearing and vision. A variant (www.schoolscreenerforschools.com) is now available for schools’ own use (from age 7) to assess whether an undetected hearing or vision deficit may be affecting progress or behaviour. SchoolScreenerforSchools includes automated reporting for SLT, parents, and OFSTED inspections.

About Thomson Screening

Thomson Screening is the leading software supplier for Vision and Hearing Screening and other School Health Needs, including Health/Risk Assessments, Immunisations, Height/Weight and associated data management.

The company was founded in 2011 by City, University of London, and further develops and commercialises the work of Professor David Thomson, for 25 years head of the University’s Department of Optometry, and Dr Sebastian Hendricks, Consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in Paediatric Audiovestibular Medicine.

Thomson Screening’s products address healthcare, education, and workplace needs around the world. The software has managed over 3 million screenings to date. Customers include the NHS in the UK, non-profit organisations in the USA, and NGOs in developing countries.

 

Web: https://schoolscreener.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/schoolscreener/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thomsonscreening/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SchoolScreener

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Schoolscreener/

Working with Strong women, I help empower women not to give up on their goals and find true happiness within themselves. #lifestyle #womenempowerment #selfcare

15 Comments

  • Ebony

    Your article on the importance of early hearing assessments in school children was incredibly enlightening Thank you for shedding light on this crucial topic and providing valuable insights for parents and educators!

  • Clarice

    This is good to know and after reading Jordan’s story, it is just imperative to check for hearing issues first before jumping to conclusions that a child has autism or something.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I learned something new today.

  • barbie ritzman

    This blog post is fantastic! Early hearing checks can make such a positive difference in children’s lives. The story of Jordan is inspiring – finding the cause of his struggles and getting him the help he needed is heartwarming. Thanks for sharing this and the resources to help keep all kids on track for success!

  • Elizabeth Flores

    as a mother who is going through this right now i can see how important this is. did a check during my daughters annual physical and she had trouble with the hearing test in 1 ear. Now we are going to a specialist and see if there is an issue.

  • Catalina

    Reading Jordan’s story about his hearing journey really touched my heart. It’s incredible how something as seemingly small as a hearing assessment at school led to such a transformative change in his life. It’s a reminder of the importance of early detection and intervention, especially for issues like hearing loss that can sometimes go unnoticed.

  • Tameka

    Wow! I can only imagine how awful I would feel finding out that all along my child had a hearing problem and I was getting frustrated with them. Thanks for sharing this incredible story.

  • Catherine Kay

    I couldn’t agree more! Early hearing assessment in school children is crucial for their development and academic success. It’s great to see awareness being raised about this important issue.

  • Claudia

    I remember when my son was in school, they had a mandatory hearing test for all the kids. I was so surprised when about five of the kids tested for hearing issues. This is so important.

  • Beth

    I remember when my son was in school, they had a mandatory hearing test for all the kids. I was so surprised when about five of the kids tested for hearing issues. This is so important.

  • Beth

    Hearing tests are just as important as eye tests for kids in school. My son goes to a school with a little boy who was having terrible difficulties, and they found out he was 90% deaf in one ear!

  • Richard Lowe

    Discovering and handling a hearing problem can be a game changer. For me it was getting glasses when I was young. Sometimes there are reasons why a child (or adult) is having difficulties – correctable reasons.

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