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Have you had your child's hearing checked? Here's why you should!

I'm going to describe a little boy's behaviour that I observed in a lesson recently. See if you can pick up what is his problem from the clues I give:

The five year old's attention was engaged fully in class, shooting his hand up ready to give an answer for a question.

But when his teacher asked, he became confused, then embarrassed and finally, he could not say the words to reply.

He seemed to listen well: he sat quietly.

He eagerly watched the video the teacher showed them about 3D shapes. But he was watching the board, rather than the teacher’s face when she spoke. And he made little eye contact with those around him.

When the class was assigned written work, he waited till others on his table had started writing, then copied the work of the girl next to him.

He copied accurately and quickly. After that he again watched, depending upon what he saw others doing, to help him know what to do next.

He became frustrated, just sat for a while, fiddling with a pencil, scribbling on his paper.

Then he started irritating the child next to him by grabbing her rubber – then the trouble began, angry voices of the children drawing the teacher to the table, accusatory looks and fingers pointed at their sullen companion who I was observing.

Later, when the child next to him shot him an angry look and covered her book, he fidgeted and tried to see another child’s work, until his teacher came and showed him, with gesture, what he was meant to be writing.

In his special phonics literacy group, he struggled to make a correct choice of whether the sound was ‘d’ or ‘g’, and he confused the sounds of the letters when reading them and when writing them too.

And when he spoke, his speech was often unclear, and he left sounds off the ends of words, such as ‘s’, and ‘….ed’, for example, ‘chair(s)’ and ‘walk(ed)’

His teacher had referred him to the SEND department for observation.

She was concerned about him, "He seems bright, but does not seem to understand, and does not follow instructions, can’t read as well as the rest of the class, and he needs one-to-one help and lots of repetitions to get him to do what he should be doing in class."

What was going on with this little boy?

Does he have learning difficulties?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?

Is he dyslexic?

Have you put together the puzzle pieces I have described above?

This is what I concluded from watching him in class:

He mainly uses what he sees to help him make sense of what is going on, and he speaks unclearly.

He doesn’t:

  • look at speakers’ faces when they are talking.

  • seem to be aware of when people are talking.

  • understand information and instructions

To me, this all adds up to a little boy who does not hear well, and I recommended he get his hearing checked.

When his parents took him for a hearing test they did indeed find that he has a significant hearing impairment.

Yes, he can hear to some extent, he is not totally deaf.

But he misses hearing crucial speech sounds, (sound frequencies) and he is only hearing at quite loud levels of sound (volume: decibels).

If he is mixing up sounds when he speaks, and is unclear in talking, a hearing test will show whether this is the cause.

Whenever a child is referred to me for Speech Therapy, one of the first things I request is a hearing test (if it has not already been done).

You may think a child can hear, because he responds when you call him, or to loud noises, but he may not be hearing all the sounds for understanding spoken language.

Here are 3 key takeaways from this post: (for girls as well as boys)

1) If a child is behaving like that little boy described above, investigate whether he has had a hearing test done, and if not, consider getting one done!

In UAE, routine hearing tests are not done for children, as they are in some countries.

What and how a child hears can help me in the sort of therapy and practice sounds I provide for the child.

It will help you too, as parent or teacher, to be aware and make sure he is looking at you when you talk, and to sit him where he can best hear and see the teacher.

2) Be aware that when your child has a cold - remember, he/she probably is not hearing very well! Be sure to be extra clear with how you say and explain your words and sentences.

2) Take action! If your child gets colds and has a stuffed up nose frequently, take him to the doctor, and definitely check out his ears. Infection of the middle ear is the most common cause of hearing loss in children. Do not neglect colds, if they go on for more than a few days. Middle ear infection - 'Glue Ear' - can lead to longer-term hearing loss, that will affect his learning and life.

I love to hear from you, your comments and suggestions, and about your experiences that resonate with what I am writing about, so do let me know if this sounds like a situation you've experienced with your child.

Warm good wishes,


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