According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), North Dakota is one of eight states in the United States where a hearing screening is not required by schools. (It is suggested in five states and required in the remainder.)
However, just because it is not required doesn’t mean it isn’t needed.
The Center for Hearing and Communication stated that approximately 3 million children in the United States have a hearing loss, with 1.3 million of them under the age of three. In addition, 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 have a measurable hearing loss in at least one ear.
Hearing screenings prior to the beginning of school are “an integral tool in identifying children with hearing loss who were not identified at birth, lost to follow-up, or who developed hearing loss later,” said Kylie Harris, AuD, CCC-A, an audiologist with Trinity Health.
Without hearing screenings, she said, “students with hearing loss in only one ear, or with mild or late onset hearing loss, may not be identified or may be misdiagnosed and mismanaged, leading to poor student performance.”
ASHA noted that hearing loss in children can cause delays in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills, such as speech and language; can cause language deficit, which causes learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement; can create communication difficulties that often lead to social isolation and poor self-regard; and may have an impact on vocational choices.
According to pediatric guidelines for hearing screening, children should receive hearing screenings at ages four, five, six, eight, and 10. Additionally, teenagers should be screened at ages 13 and 15, due to unprotected noise exposure from music, hunting, and other loud recreational activities. The appointment takes a half hour, with the first five minutes spent getting a hearing medical history of the patient, followed by 15 minutes of the actual testing. The remainder is used to counsel the patient and family on the results.
For this upcoming school year, due to COVID-19, schools may have a different idea of how they want to approach these screenings, Harris said, “possibly deferring them to pediatricians at their well check-ups and relying heavily on parental report of a problem and teacher report of a student’s performance. However, if school does run its normal operations, then I would assume they would still arrange for typical screening procedures.”
Over the past year, Trinity Health Audiology partnered with Minot Public Schools and Souris Valley Special Services to provide audiologic services for students there. “The audiology team with Trinity Health and Minot Public Schools/Souris Valley Special Services plan to continue our services as usual with increased recommendations for our students who have hearing loss,” Harris said. This includes more aggressive intervention by use of personal amplification system, clear facemasks, and providing the student with one on one services, if indicated.
In addition to Harris, Trinity Health Audiology includes Jerrica Maxson, AuD, CCC-A, and Tricia Nechodom, AuD, PASC. Their office is located in Health Center – West, 101 3rd Ave SW, Ste 203, Minot. For appointments or consultations, please call 701-857-5986. Some insurances may need a referral.