Prenatal smoking linked to hearing loss

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Throw away those cigarettes, pregnant moms! As if there aren’t tons of other reasons that smoking while pregnant is bad for your unborn child, now a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association for Otolaryngology found that kids whose moms smoked while they were pregnant were three times more likely to have mild hearing loss than their peers whose moms didn’t smoke. Read the article from USA Today here. It’s hard enough getting kids to listen, parents–don’t make it worse!

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Marching band a threat to hearing?

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Thanks to all of the studies that have been done on the effects of loud music on hearing, researchers have discovered that even playing in the school marching band may be hazardous to your hearing. Ask your audiologist about musician’s plugs, which are specialized earplugs that can be worn while playing an instrument. They come with removable sound filters that allow kids to “turn down the volume” while still hearing all of their fellow musicians and staying in key. Check this article out from USA Today.

My child’s been diagnosed with hearing loss…..what do I do now???

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This is a question I’m sure every parent whose infant or child has been diagnosed with hearing loss has asked. The diagnosis itself can seem so overwhelming, along with the very important choices you’ll be asked to make for your child in what will seem like a very short period of time. The state of Minnesota has put together one of the most amazing brochures I’ve ever seen for parents of children newly diagnosed with hearing loss. In a step-by-step format, this online pamphlet will help guide you through the process of getting the services and help you will need. Most states will have something similar to Minnesota, so contact your state Department of Health to see what they can offer you.

Parent Roadmap

What’s auditory processing disorder?

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Auditory processing disorder (APD) is when the brain has a problem comprehending the signal that is sent to it. It’s “what we do with what we hear”. There are two parts to hearing. The first is detection, the ability to simply hear a sound and let someone know that you heard it. The other part is processing, the brain’s ability to make sense of the sounds and words that come to the auditory part of the brain.

Auditory processing disorder is hard to diagnose because most of the time audiological test results are normal. Sometimes speech understanding tests can indicate poorer word discrimination scores than would be expected with normal hearing.

Signs your child may have an auditory processing disorder are:
Difficulties hearing in background noise
Difficulty following directions
Difficulty localizing where sounds are coming from
Short attention span
Asking for repetitions of speech even when it’s quiet

Auditory processing disorder is usually evaluated using a special group of listening tests involving words and sounds. It’s important to have a regular audiological evaluation first to rule out hearing loss. The audiologist that evaluates your child for APD will choose specific tests based on your child’s history and areas of concern. The testing can sometimes take 1-2 hours and may need to be split up into a couple of visits. He or she will then review the results of the testing with you after they are completed and evaluated and offer suggestions for helping your child. Suggestions can range from special seating in the classroom to an “FM” system or to a computerized therapy program to help your child strengthen his areas of difficulty.

What is an IEP?

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IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. If a child is in school and is diagnosed with a hearing loss that would affect their school performance, an IEP is a document outlining the academic goals and services your child will have for that school year.

There are many professionals, along with you and your child, who will be a part of the IEP process. This group may include an educational audiologist, school principal, your child’s teacher, a special education teacher,the school psychologist and/or school social worker. The professionals involved will typically do classroom observations and/or administer standardized testing to assess your child’s current needs. This group will come up with your child’s plan, and you have the right to appeal the plan if you don’t agree with it. This will be done yearly, and goals/priorities may change as your child grows.

It’s very important to ask questions during the meeting if you have them to be sure you fully understand the process and the plan!

Coping with a Diagnosis of Hearing Loss

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It can be very hard emotionally to take in the diagnosis of your child’s hearing loss; parents and siblings can experience many different feelings when hearing loss is confirmed, all of which are normal and natural. Sometimes it’s easier to know that others out there have gone through the same range of emotions. Here is a wonderful article from the New York Times about a parent coming to terms with their daughter’s hearing loss.