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Listen up: A child must hear well to do well, group says

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association estimates that 10 percent of children entering first grade have a moderate to severe hearing loss.

An inability to hear correctly can delay development of a child's communication skills, which can result in reduced academic achievement.

Communication difficulties in children can also lead to social isolation and can ultimately limit career choices.

ASHA recommends that children be screened upon entering school; every year from kindergarten through third grade; in seventh and 11th grades; upon entrance to a special education program; and upon grade repetition.

The organization advises that hearing screenings be conducted by audiologists or speech-language pathologists holding a certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, or by support personnel under supervision of a certified audiologist.

How can you tell if your child has a hearing disability? He or she is likely to display one or more of the following signs:

+ A consistent lack of response when spoken to quietly

+ A consistent inattentiveness to verbal and auditory cues

+ An inability to follow directions

+ Limited vocabulary, both receptive (words that are understood) and spoken

+ Difficulty hearing sound from the side or behind

+ A lack of response to music

+ An inability to distinguish the nuances of language; the child cannot tell when you are angry, sad, joking, etc.

+ Difficulty distinguishing words that sound similar, such as door and store, and words beginning with f, s or sh

+ A tendency to favor one ear, turning toward a sound

+ An inability to hear low sounds, such as the ticking of a watch

+ Turning the volume up very high or standing close to the TV, radio or tape player.

To learn more

Visit ASHA's Web site at www.asha.org for more information on hearing disorders in children.

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