Hearing loss: Is this why your child's grades are dropping?

  • Dr. Jonathan Sherman

    Dr. Jonathan Sherman

Dr. Jonathan Sherman
Updated 11/8/2019 6:17 AM

If your child is suddenly experiencing a decline in academic success, there may be a cause you've never even considered.

The American Academy of Audiology is recommending that any parents of a child with falling school grades take the child to be evaluated by an audiologist, as hearing loss may be to blame.


What signs should parents and teachers look for?

In early school-aged children, inattentiveness and behavioral issues can be the first indication of abnormal hearing.

The Academy also lists the following as signs of abnormal hearing:

• The child doesn't understand questions and doesn't respond or responds inappropriately.

• The child intently watches your face to understand what you're saying.

• The child is unable to complete assignments and doesn't seem to understand them.

• The child speaks loudly at inappropriate times.

• The child has chronic ear pain.

Another sign to watch for is speech delay. We often see young children who have speech delay in our pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinic, as a relatively easily fixable cause of some such delay is hearing loss.

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Even if a child has one-sided hearing loss (which can often be hard for parents to identify), school performance can be affected, and treating the hearing loss has been shown to make a real difference in achievement.

Although infants undergo hearing tests, as a child ages, loud noises, ear infections and other illnesses can affect hearing ability.

One important thing for parents and teachers to remember is that hearing loss can present late or progress over time, and so a past normal hearing screening is not adequate to rule out hearing loss.

Hearing loss may still be present and may be preventing a child from doing his or her best.

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Advocate Children's Hospital, where Dr. Jonathan Sherman is a pediatric otolaryngologist. To check out more information, visit www.advocatechildrenshospital.com.

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