18. Special Education Overidentification 2011: Hearing Impairment

Mild hearing loss is not always detected.  Ear infections can cause variable transient hearing loss coming and going over the school year.

Schools screen for hearing problems but some go undetected. There are periodic ear infections reducing alertness and learning ability. Follow-up audiology is not carried out. Poor hearing-aid maintenance lets the hearing problem impact classroom communication.

“Childhood hearing loss is a very common problem within our schools. There are an estimated 8 million children in North America who have some degree of hearing loss. Even a very mild loss can affect how a student learns. Every teacher in the early elementary school can expect to have one-fourth to one-third of his or her students without normal hearing on any given day. Children spend at least 45% of their day engaged in active listening activities. It is obvious that teachers need to be aware of the impact such a loss can have on learning” (MSN Education).

Hearing problems mimic attention deficits.  Teachers do not always suspect hearing loss so they do not make referrals for special education assessment.  Screening can occur only once a  year and hearing loss can come and go during that period.

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