By Laurie Hanin, PhD, CCC-A, Executive Director
It’s early September, which to parents means a few things. First, no more lifeguards at the beach. And second, it’s back-to-school time. I think for most parents, it’s a bittersweet time. The carefree days of summer are gone, and it’s back to waking your kids up early, gathering school supplies, getting school clothes together, and making sure homework gets done. But for many, being back to a more structured time can give kids the support that many of them need and parents crave.
It’s also often the time for a child’s annual physical examination to be sure your child is healthy and ready to learn. The pediatrician will weigh your child and measure their height, make sure all vaccinations are up to date, and all systems a go for a healthy year. What’s missing from all of this? Often, a test to see if your child can hear normally, which is a requirement in order to really be ready to learn.
Hearing Loss Can Impact Learning
In New York City, since 2009, the burden for knowing this falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and their pediatricians. That’s when the NYC school system eliminated their school hearing screening program. Before 2009, parents could be assured that their children would have their hearing screened and they would be notified if there was any potential hearing problem that needed to be followed up. Now, you’re on your own, and it can be very difficult to be sure that your child’s hearing is good enough to allow them to learn and thrive. Even a mild untreated hearing loss can result in a child missing 50% of what goes on in a classroom. A child with a hearing loss in just one ear has a 25-30% chance of failing a grade.
Importance of a Hearing Test
Thankfully, in NYC today, almost all children have their hearing screened at birth before they leave the hospital. But it’s not enough to simply know that your child passed this hearing screening at birth. While only 5-out-of-6 children of 1,000 are born with a hearing loss, by first grade this doubles to 12 out of 1,000. How do you know if your child is one who has developed a hearing loss? Get a hearing test or a hearing screening if your child has not had one since birth. If you have any concern that your child is not hearing as well as he or she should, contact an audiologist to schedule a comprehensive hearing evaluation.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Signs that your child might have a hearing loss include:
saying “what?” frequently;
repeatedly, increasing the level of the TV;
not being able to answer your questions from another room;
having the teacher comment that your child just isn’t paying attention.
A hearing test is almost always covered by insurance, is painless (even fun for kids!) and is the only way to be sure your child can hear perfectly.
Lend Your Voice
Once you take care of your child, what else can you do? Contact your local city councilperson and tell them that the children of NYC deserve no less than what children around the state have—a mechanism by which their hearing is screened repeatedly during their school years, in school. Ask your council person to bring this issue up at City Council meetings and reinstate NYC’s hearing screening program.
Thank you for giving this issue the attention it deserves and help us spread the word. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. To schedule a hearing test appointment for your child, please use the button below or call the Center for Hearing and Communication at 917-305-7766 in New York or 954-601-1930 in Ft. Lauderdale.