Are You Listening? Back-to-School Hearing & Speech Testing, by Yvonne Oliveira

Back-to-school is an exciting time for students and parents. With that in mind, the beginning of a new school year is a good time to address speech, language and hearing concerns so that preventative measures can be taken to ensure optimum performance in the classroom. Seventy-five per cent of a child’s day is spent listening. Therefore, it is critical that hearing loss, auditory processing disorders and speech and language delays be identified at the beginning of the school year where strategies and classroom modifications can be implemented prior to a student falling behind.

School-age children should be screened for hearing to identify hearing impairment that may interfere with development, communication, health, and education. Even minimal hearing loss can put a child at risk for academic and communication difficulties. Audiologists assess hearing sensitivity and administer auditory processing tests that provide a window into the language/listening parts of the brain. Since listening is a critical learning skill, test results can be helpful in planning a program of intervention. Students who wear hearing aids, cochlear implants, or use personal FM systems should routinely visit an audiologist to have their equipment checked. If you suspect your child has difficulty with hearing or attention it is recommended that you have your child tested by an audiologist.

School age children should be screened for hearing at the following times*:
1. on first entry into school
2. every year from kindergarten through 3 rd grade
3. in 7th grade
4. in 11th grade
5. upon entrance into special education
6. upon grade repetition
7. upon entering a new school system without evidence of having passed a previous hearing screening

Similar importance should be placed on identification of speech and language delays which impact academic skills. Success in reading and writing is dependent on a strong base of language. When children have poor auditory perceptual skills and poor auditory memory, they are at risk for reading and learning problems in formal academic settings. Speech-language pathologists evaluate and help remediate speech and language difficulties in areas related to phonemic awareness (early literacy skills such as rhyming and sound blending), articulation, oral motor skills, apraxia, stuttering, voice disorders, auditory and language processing skills, expressive and receptive language and vocabulary, and developmental delays. A speech-language pathologist can provide critical intervention of speech and language disorders in order for your child to excel academically.

*According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Yvonne Oliveira is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, Audiologist and Auditory-Verbal Therapist and co-owner of HearSay Speech and Hearing Centre.

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