Early Detection of Hearing Loss or Deafness

Last Sunday, I met one of my favorite deaf students after interpreting in a worship service. His name is Marlon. He’s still the smart, short, boyish looking and always smiling boy I have been fond of since I became his teacher almost a decade ago. We had a little chit chat while having lunch with other deaf friends. He told me that he is now a regular employee in a medicine factory in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Meeting him brought back memories on how we stayed for almost a week in his hometown in the island of Marinduque and had a talk with his mother. She said that although she is already a registered nurse, she never thought that Marlon was deaf until he was six years old. He was misdiagnosed as autistic. It was too late when they found out that the findings were wrong because he started schooling at age eight.

This brings to my entry,

How do we know if our child is deaf or not?

Hearing loss is often misdiagnosed. It can be equated with cerebral palsy, autism or even having ADHD. However, there are a large number of children who suffer only from a mild or moderate hearing loss and not as severe as those. They are at a great disadvantage because it is difficult to identify their impairment. It even has an adverse effect on language development and consequently, on educational skills. Children with such hearing loss are able to hear the loud vowel sounds but will have difficulty in discriminating soft consonants like ‘s’, ‘k’, ‘th’, ‘p’, ‘b’ and ‘d’. This often misjudged children and becomes difficult for the parents and teachers to understand the child.

A child with possible mild or moderate hearing impairment often demonstrates the following behavior:

  • – needs to have instructions repeated;
  • – always misunderstands instructions;
  • – has difficulty with spelling;
  • – has language problems;
  • – has difficulty with spelling due to problems discriminating sounds; and
  • – shows inattentiveness, listlessness, withdrawn, aggressive and badly behaved.

On my next entries, I will feature the expected responses of a child and basic guide for parents and teachers to recognize a child with a hearing impairment. 🙂

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Wanna test your hearing loss?

Screenshot of Hearing Test 

I want to share with you this neat free program that tests your hearing capability in different frequencies. It was designed by a famous blogger Jimmy Ruska. It’s a simple shockwave flash file that runs on any browser. I’m not sure if its accuracy has been tested medically. There are a couple of hearing tests online. But this one tests wide range of frequencies.

To use it, make sure that your browser already has the Adobe Shockwave flash plugin. If you have recently viewed many Youtube video files, then you already have flash plugin installed. If not, then go to this website and install it. Now, make sure that your computer speaker is ON and at a normal range. Look at my screenshot to know how to operate it.

Now go to this site: http://www.jimmyr.com/blog/hearingloss.html

Our sensitivity to sounds are measured in frequencies with Hertz (Hz) as the unit of measurement. You can also equate this as the number of vibrations produced every second. The ear helps the body pick up sound waves and vibrations. The frequency range for human hearing lies between 20 Hz and approximately 20,000 Hz. The feeling of the human ear drops off sharply below about 500 Hz and above 4,000 Hz. Think of it as the standard keys in the piano. If you can hear all 88 keys then you are fine. However, there are still plenty of sound pitches or notes higher or lower than those within the 88 key range.

Please do not confuse frequencies with decibels. Decibels (dB) are unit of measuring loudness of sounds. To relate this two, think of it this way. You need to make the high pitch sound (Hz) louder (dB) in order for a hard of hearing person to hear it.

Here are some interesting facts:

  1. Hearing loss appears significantly as we grow older.
  2. Men lose sound frequency faster than women. That probably explains why wives got angry with their husbands because they can’t hear their nagging voices. Hmmmm…..
  3. Dogs whining and kettle whistling produce high pitched sounds.
  4. Some low frequencies like a heart beat of 1 or 2 Hz can not be heard.
  5. Inability to hear certain levels of frequencies are called “sensorineural hearing loss“.
  6. Personal media players, such as iPods which often reaching 115 decibels or higher, can produce powerful enough sound to cause significant Noise-Induced Hearing Loss beginning at 4000 Hz or high frequency sounds.
  7. Seek medical assistance when other people complain that the television is too loud while you regard it as comfortable.

Who knows? You might discover that you are unable to hear certain levels of sounds. I found out myself that I can’t hear 50 Hz sounds. I just thought I might amuse you with this. 🙂

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