Parents who suspect a hearing loss in their children may not want to rely on school-administered hearing tests for an accurate diagnosis. In many states, school screenings focus on low-frequency hearing loss, which often occurs because of fluid in the ear after a bad cold or ear infection.
However, school screenings may not detect high-frequency hearing losses, typically observed in adolescents or older students and caused by exposure to excessive noise according to a study conducted at Penn State University1. The research involved 282 students at Hershey High School.
Though they may appear fine, students who miss high-frequency sounds may not hear important consonant sounds that help them distinguish between similar words (e.g., “thirst” vs. “first”). They may also have trouble understanding when background noise is present and are likely to become fatigued at the end of the day due to their extended listening effort.
Good hearing is essential for speech and language development, making it vital for learning and communication. Students with untreated hearing loss may be at risk for problems with academic achievement, as well as social isolation and poor self-esteem. A hearing evaluation by an independent hearing healthcare professional may be needed for teens who exhibit the signs of hearing loss.
In addition to following the advice from their Audiologist, you can help your child with high-frequency hearing loss at home by following these suggestions2:
- Gain their attention before giving important instructions
- When possible, face your child when speaking to them
- Don’t attempt to have a conversation from a different room. Let them know where you are when you’re calling for them, i.e., “Maggie, come here, I’m in the Kitchen."
- Reduce unnecessary background noise during conversation, like the TV or radio
- Protect your child’s ears from damage or loud noise. Monitor volume and length of music through headphones and encourage them to wear earplugs at concerts, when using power tools, mowing the lawn, etc.
- Encourage your child to ask for repetition as needed
- Alert your child’s school about the hearing loss so that proper accommodations can be made
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2Boston Children’s Hospital. Suggestions for Parents: Helping the Child with High-Frequency Hearing Loss.