Children learn despite hearing impairment
One of the earliest tests a child will complete is a newborn hearing screening prior to leaving the hospital. Even though these screenings have been mandated in the state of Missouri since 2002, there are still some children either not identified or not receiving the appropriate services due to a variety of different reasons. Tara Oetting, clinical assistant professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at Missouri State University, said that this could impact the child’s communication development and literacy rate for his or her lifetime.
Oetting advocates for early diagnosis and planning in order to get a child on the right track to a lifetime of learning. The first goal is to get a child fitted with the correct amplification or assistive listening device, she said.
“Every moment that a child is without language is damaging to their development,” said Oetting. “A multidisciplinary team needs to be part of developing a plan for the child’s progress, including therapy for language, speech and auditory development.”
Many resources exist for families dealing with a child who is deaf or hard-of-hearing, noted Oetting. The state of Missouri has a First Steps program which can provide individualized therapy plans and services at a reduced cost for children who are birth to three years of age. There are also programs like Missouri State’s Preschool Program, which is designed to equip families with the tools needed to communicate, educate and advocate with and for their children.
Family involvement is imperative in language development, and the Preschool Program not only gets students and parents learning to communicate in a variety of modalities, it shows a dedication to education.
“Students with a hearing loss are still graduating from high school, on average, with a third or fourth grade reading level,” said Oetting. “Here, we are giving children with a hearing loss the tools necessary to have pre-literacy skills that are at the same level – sometimes higher – than their hearing peers in kindergarten.”
The newborn hearing screening was first recommended by the National Institute of Health and the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing in 1993.
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