As a parent, you are often the first to notice a difference in your child’s behaviour, from a change in their demeanour to the foods they’re suddenly craving. You know your child well and usually able to figure out the reason.
But what do you do when there is no clear reasoning behind them becoming increasingly withdrawn, easily irritated, or ignoring your instructions?
One reason for these changes in behaviour could be an ear health issue that can be easily missed, according to Telethon Speech & Hearing Head of Hearing Services, Azadeh Ebrahimi-Madiseh.
“A very common condition that could be easily missed is glue ear. Glue ear is a form of ear infection when the middle part of the ear, behind the ear drum, is filled with fluid. It can create significant hearing loss. For children with glue ear, it feels like the volume of the whole world is turned down. They can easily miss important parts of speech and environmental noises, resulting in some being labelled as having selective hearing or naughty at school, when the problem is simply not being able to hear properly.
The challenge with identifying glue ear in the first instance is that there is no pain associated with the condition, so it can easily be missed.
In the classroom, children may struggle with everyday learning activities as well as having trouble communicating with other students, missing letters and sounds, and following instructions.
“While the condition is invisible and pain-free, parents and teachers can look for signs of hearing loss in children and get their hearing tested. The first step is to see an audiologist who specialises in children. The audiologist will conduct a range of tests to assist your child with the next step. Usually, the condition is transient and hearing will go back to normal if the condition is identified early. Early identification and management is the key.”
If your child is waiting to be seen for a hearing test, Telethon Speech & Hearing offers an assessment conducted by audiologists specialised in children, with a typical one- to two-week wait.
A full audiological assessment involves checking the various parts of the ear and looking at how well a child responds to sounds.
Still unsure if your child needs a test? Leading Telethon Speech & Hearing ENT Dr Tim Cooney recommends going through the checklist below.
- Your child has difficulty understanding what people are saying or misunderstands instructions.
- He/she speaks differently than other children of the same age.
- Hearing seems to fluctuate, being worse at some times and better at others.
- He/she rotates their head while listening, or complains they have a “good” and a “bad” ear or swaps the phone from side to side.
- Says “What” frequently.
- The television is always turned up very loud, or if your child sits close to the television to hear it. Speech and/or academic performance was good but has dropped off lately.
- His/her teacher has concerns about hearing or classroom participation.
- Your child watches a speaker’s face very intensely — they might be lip-reading.
- A previously happy child has become quiet or withdrawn lately or become a “daydreamer”.
- A previously well-behaved child has become naughty or stubborn.
- You just have a feeling that “something is just not right with my child’s hearing”.
Healthy ears and healthy hearing is a key factor in determining the development of your child. If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing contact Telethon Speech & Hearing for a hearing test.
Call 9387 9888 or visit www.tsh.org.au to book online.