Monday, March 8, 2010

Infant Hearing Screening and Followup Care

I'm back from camping and feeling relaxed and happy. I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

Today I read an article on ParentDish about infant hearing screening. According to the author, 97% of infants are now screened for hearing loss (a step up from 1999 figures that showed only 46.5%), but the children who fail the tests are not receiving the followup care they need to make sure they don't have difficulties with language and speech. A report linked to in the blog post has recommendations for what to do if an infant fails the screening: "...a diagnostic screening for those who failed the initial test before they are 3 months old, and enrollment in an early intervention program before the age of 6 months for those diagnosed with hearing loss."

I don't know if I had this infant hearing screening when I was born in 1986. My hearing loss is progressive and when it was actually identified in 1991, I had only a mild loss, so perhaps when I was a newborn the loss would have been undetectable - if I was actually born with a loss. I'm not sure.

I do know that when my mother had concerns about my loss, she initially took me to a hearing screening program being done by volunteers (I think) at a local elementary school. They told her I was just being a typical toddler by refusing to return to her when she called my name, running out into traffic, etc. It was clues like wanting to hear her read stories to me only if she was sitting on one side (my good ear) and my response time to sounds that convinced her I really did have a loss.

She took me to Arizona State University's audiology clinic where they quickly determined I had a hearing loss. I should dig out the report sometime, because it's very interesting reading. Even though I had a hearing loss I had very good communicative skills. Though I wasn't diagnosed with my loss until I was four, I didn't suffer or have delays because of it.

Infants born with hearing loss who don't receive help may not be so lucky. It's important that infants be screened, but they can't just be screened and then left behind. Something has to be done to help them. I agree with the recommendations in the report; an early intervention program to ensure they don't fall behind is a good idea.


  1. Hi, thanks. Oftentimes I am getting either info that is too specific - or that is too general to be applied in my own context. With your article I was able to get something out of it, so.... Thanks;-)

  2. Children learn to communicate by imitating the sounds they hear. If they have a hearing loss that is undetected and untreated, they can miss much of the speech and language around them. This results in delayed speech/language development, social problems and academic difficulties.



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