“Red Flags” for Hearing Problems in Children     

Do you know how to access a free hearing screening for a child?

Grant Wood Area Education Agency has audiologists and audiometrists on staff who perform hearing screenings for children from birth-graduation in Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Washington counties.

Students might be screened by Grant Wood AEA staff in one of several ways.  Hearing screening/testing is conducted directly at most public and parochial school buildings for students in alternative kindergarten, kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades, and also for students with Individualized Education Plan (IEPs) who are enrolled in district sponsored preschool programs.  Other students who are new to a school who don’t have a documented hearing test, and some students with a history of known hearing loss also may be tested.

“While we often are on-site at many schools in our service area to perform hearing screenings, we want parents or caregivers to know that any student or child in our service area can schedule an appointment for a hearing screening at our offices as well,” commented Grant Wood AEA audiologist Kelly Varnum.

Screening also is available for infants and young children not yet enrolled in school.  “Infant and toddler hearing screenings are best performed in a sound booth, so our agency regularly schedules specific appointments for them, ” explained Varnum. Grant Wood AEA has two sound booths available, one in Cedar Rapids and a second at its office in Coralville.

Grant Wood AEA staff can help identify hearing service needs through testing, medical referrals, and also as part of the educational planning process for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Information about the students hearing, along with recommendations for follow up consultation or other services, are provided by licensed audiologists and itinerant teachers for the deaf/hard of hearing.

“Our agency has a long history of supporting students and families through the early detection of hearing loss,” adds Grant Wood Area Education Agency Special Education Director Maria Cashman. “These screenings help a child’s family and educational team ensure that appropriate services and supports are put in place to meet the unique needs of the child.”

Hearing is important for developing communication, social, and academic skills.  Parents may find that children who experience fluid in their ears or ear infections may show few, if any, symptoms and may only have temporarily impaired hearing, while other children impacted by hearing loss may have it affect their behavior and development given the lack of access to sound.  Students with hearing loss may miss significant amounts of language or communication experiences and academic material, as well as have difficulty attending due to the strain of listening.  

Hearing loss may not be obvious, and children with it often appear to be lazy, inattentive, immature or seem to have “selective hearing."  Grant Wood AEA’s audiologists suggest that parents might help identify potential problems with their child’s hearing by looking over this list of “red flags” for hearing problems. If a child displays any or all of these symptoms, they note, he could have a hearing problem.

Red Flags for Hearing Problems

  • Constantly tired, easily fatigued
  • Chronic colds, runny nose, and earaches
  • Doesn't respond when back is turned
  • Watches face for clues
  • Often says "Huh?" or "What?"
  • Short attention span
  • Copies others' work
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor classroom behavior
  • Quiet and not involved
  • Needs instructions repeated
  • Poor comprehension skills
  • Speaks loudly
  • Speech delay, articulation errors
  • Receptive, expressive language delay

If parents have concerns about these or other potential hearing problems, they should consider  contacting their family physician for a consultation. To schedule a hearing test, parents can contact Grant Wood AEA by calling 319.399.6700 or by using the ‘contact us’ form at gwaea.org.  





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