Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Kids

Paula Rosenthal posted an interesting article from the Better Hearing Institute on her blog: One Million Youth in America with Hearing Loss May be Left Behind, National Survey Finds; Even ‘Minor’ Hearing Loss Causes Major Problems

The study focused on unilateral and mild hearing loss and found that when left untreated, several areas of life were affected, namely:

Social skills (52%)
Grades in school and language development (50%)
Emotional health (42%)
Relationships with peers (38%)
Self-esteem (37%)
Relationships with family (36%)

Also in the study was this quote:

“Based on our findings, I am concerned that a sizeable population of young people in America is being left behind because they do not fit existing paradigms of hearing disability,” said otolaryngologist Dr. William Luxford of the House Ear Clinic, a BHI Board member and co-author of the study. “We need a fundamental re-examination of the current hearing health policies and protocols influencing America’s children with hearing loss.”

Dr. Luxford is right. We do need a re-examination of the health policies and protocols. But those policies and protocols need to include a network of parents and hard of hearing adult role models as well as connecting kids with other kids. I would like to see that included in the solutions and perhaps we'll see different numbers in the catagories above.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... perhaps I should schedule an audiogram for Rocky and Dino... I have the same type of hearing loss as my mom and two cousins.


anna s said...

Yes. yes. I chatted with my child's SLP the other day about getting a 5 year old student whose hearing loss was undetected until recently. She's catching up like a sponge in a DHH SDC, thank goodness. We also have a thirteen year old student with recently identified hearing loss. He was labeled as developmentally delayed until just n o w!!!

It is still happeing in the new millennium!

I also have children that are hearing and I had them tested very early just in case. Even a mild HL can cause problems in school.

dog food said...

heh heh, who else besides me is not surprised that it took a hearing doctor an entire profession to realize we need a revamp of deaf services?

Indeed, we all already know that many of us are left behind, mainly when dealing with hearies. I only hope that this should be a very unique epiphany that'll make actual changes for the hearing community and not just us deafies alone.

Paula said...

Hi Karen, Thanks for the link and mention. I agree, there needs to be a variety of deaf and hard of hearing people on an advisory panel. The medical community has failed people with hearing loss time and again. My daughter wasn't tested until she was 17 months old and I realized she could be. That was after I had implored my pediatrician to be on top of it when I was pregnant with her. He didn't know about OAEs or ABRs and did absolutely nothing to educate himself. After we got an accurate diagnosis at 22 1/2 months, I tried to let him know that I was available as a resource to other parents and he basically pooh-poohed me. Fail me once, I may give you a second chance, fail me twice I switched doctors.

kw said...

Karen--These statistics are sobering! I will also add that many schools across the country still do not screen for hearing loss. I'm finding your blog extremely upsetting to read, because I went through childhood with an undiagnosed loss mild to moderate progressive loss, and I believe I suffered tremendously for it. I hate to sound like I feel sorry for myself. I know I keep harping on this. It's just that I'm fifty now and it bothers me so much that forty years has passed, and we're only just NOW figuring it out. How long will it be before something is actually done?????

I thought I was all alone until a few years ago at an SayWhatClub convention a psychologist who specialized in deaf-family relationships came to speak about family and childhood issues surrounding deafness/mainstreaming and undiagnosed hearing loss. Over one hundred people were in attendance. Over half of us ended up crying as we recalled painful events from our childhoods.

My problem as a child was knowing I didn't fit in, but not understanding why. When the hearing loss was finally diagnosed, it was a relief in some ways because then I understood what I needed to do. I know it sounds weird, but I simply didn't realize I couldn't hear. The lipreading came naturally. When you're a child you don't know that you're different or that others can do things you can't.

When you take into account all the times of getting into trouble for not hearing, not "paying attention" or "following directions" and being labeled kinda flakey by friends because you don't get jokes or respond inappropriately to teachers and classmates when they ask questions-- it eats at your self-esteem over years and years. Then there's the fact my family STILL doesn't accept the fact that I'm deaf and fails to accommodate me most the time because I speak and lip read so well. I've only touched on a few of the frustrations. . .

Sorry my comment is so long.

Karen said...


I share the same frustration. It took me nearly six months to get my HMO to approve an ABR for my oldest child.

I see change happening as Hands & Voices strives to set up Guide-By-Your-Side programs which includes parent training and deaf and hard of hearing adults as role models. Slowly but surely, we're making positive changes happen in different states.

Karen said...


It's always good to check that out, follow your instincts on this.

Karen said...

KW--here's a hug!

You can be a valuable resource to parents by sharing your experience as you have done here. Thank you for having the courage to speak frankly about this.

Tales from the CI Gal said...

Thank you for posting the article. As a special education teacher, I see this all the time. I watched a child who had a tube in one ear come undone. The military doctors could not see her for 3 weeks. She could not hear out of ear for 3 weeks. We tried an Fm system and it did not work out well for her. Finally they took the tube out and they still don't know if any damage is done. They won't do a hearing test for 6 months. So this child is dealing with 7 months of limited hearing. That is so sad.

And a common problem. What can educators do? We feel so isolated since we can't tell parents - hey take your child to the doctor or test your child's hearing.