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A unilateral hearing loss is when your child has normal hearing in one ear and a hearing loss in the other ear. Because there is normal hearing in one ear, if the hearing loss occurs after the newborn hearing screening it may be years before it’s diagnosed, since many children appear to hear “just fine” most of the time. There are some signs to look for, though. According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, children with a unilateral hearing loss may have difficulty localizing sounds, difficulty hearing in background noise, and hearing you from a distance or another room. Speaking to a child on their poorer hearing side may result in the child not hearing you at all or responding incorrectly.
It’s been shown through research that kids with unilateral hearing loss may be at a disadvantage over their normal hearing peers in the classroom. It’s not hard to see why. Most of us with children would agree that classroom settings have changed drastically since we were in school. Classrooms no longer have the orderly rows of years past; many of them have “pod” settings, consisting of small groups of desks pushed together, with some not even facing the teacher. There may not even be a true “front” of the classroom; many teachers walk around among their students while teaching or to help with group work, which may cause difficulty for the child if the teacher is on their poorer side. Many schools have “open” classroom construction, where their rooms may not have all four walls and/or a door, allowing background noise from other areas to filter in.
To learn about unilateral hearing loss and how it can affect your child, click here for more information.