The Back-to-School Checklist: Hearing Screenings!
When August comes, parents start the typical back to school routine: collecting school supplies, packing up the backpacks and lunch boxes, and buying new clothes to fit kids who seem to be growing faster as each year passes. There are annual trips to the pediatrician to receive the appropriate check-ups and vaccinations, and then they’re off for another year at school.
However, there is often something missing in this routine: hearing screenings.
If it’s not part of your back to school checklist, add it to the top of the list right now. Each year, more than 9,000 of children in South Carolina who are deaf or hard of hearing go undiagnosed and untreated. This can result in challenges now and in the future including, limited language development, delayed social skills, and various challenges in school. Getting a routine hearing screening is a simple task that can help identify any areas of concern.
The hearing screening process is quick, easy, and painless. Infants should have a hearing screening soon after birth and the tests should continue fairly regularly as children get older. If an infant or child does not pass the hearing screening, they will need a more extensive hearing exam. Some types of hearing loss are progressive and are not present at birth, or are caused by injury or illness -- making the need for routine hearing screenings even more critical to a child's health and development.
While it can feel overwhelming, addressing hearing loss in children can start with just a few easy steps, and there are many resources available to assist parents and caregivers across the state.
Beginnings SC provides services to families around South Carolina, including free hearing screenings, support, education, a personalized plan to help children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and more.
We work with child serving organizations to host professional development workshops and trainings and provide knowledge about hearing loss and how to effectively serve those who are diagnosed and to help provide free screenings and education to make sure we identify children who are deaf or hard of hearing early. We also work with parents to empower them in helping them face the challenges of hearing loss and find avenues for assistance that can lead to their child’s happy and successful adulthood. Our team is made up of professionals (and parents) who have experience educating and supporting children and families with hearing loss.
So, as we approach the first day of school, add a hearing screening to your child’s back to school checklist. Not sure where to start? Ask your child’s pediatrician, school nurse or child care center to request a free hearing screening. (Still not sure where to go or need more information, visit us at www.beginningssc.org.) By doing so, you are one step closer to setting them up for a successful school year and healthy childhood.
Cara Smithwick, BS, MLIS, NBCT is the Executive Director of Beginnings SC. Cara is a National Board Certified Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She has taught students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing for 20 years in a variety of educational settings, as well as serving as an administrator at the district level for a Midlands’ D/HOH program.