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Healthy Hearing

By: Reading Rockets
Healthy hearing is critical to a child's speech and language development, communication, learning, and social development. Children who do not hear well are at an increased risk of becoming struggling readers. Here are some signals that may indicate a hearing problem.

Healthy hearing is critical to a child's speech and language development, communication, learning, and social development. Children who do not hear well are at an increased risk of becoming struggling readers. An estimated 10-15% of all school-aged children have some type of hearing loss. Some of these children are born with a hearing problem (which can get progressively worse), but healthy young children can develop hearing loss at any time as a result of:

  • frequent ear infections
  • infectious diseases like measles, chicken pox, meningitis, or flu
  • head injury
  • exposure to loud noise or music

Many school-aged children with acquired hearing loss are not diagnosed properly or early enough. Here are some common 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 in attentive 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.

For help in finding a certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's online directory. ASHA also has a great website, Listen to Your Buds, that teaches children to protect their hearing through safe use of portable audio players.

Reading Rockets (2008)

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