Not only should we continue to educate our children to "catch that sneeze" or "cover a cough", but we should look out for symptoms of coexisting ear infections. If your child is not responding to his name or seems to have new challenges with balance, it may be secondary to an asymptomatic ear infection.
A coworker of mine, Penny Kukla, shared more valuable information regarding how middle ear infections could negatively impact our students' growth in speech and language. It is a great reminder for this time of year:
Ear Infections and Speech and Language Development
Ear infections can cause fluid in the middle ear (otitis media). Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses in children between birth and three years of age. Fluid in the middle ear prevents the ear from conducting sound properly. It can interfere with normal hearing. Even a mild, temporary hearing loss can delay the development of speech and language skills. Therefore, early recognition and treatment of otitis media is important.
The symptoms of serious ear infections and otitis media usually appear during or after a cold or respiratory infection, often during the winter months. Since fluid can collect in the middle ear without causing pain, children with otitis media may not complain about it. Parents may notice symptoms before the child does! If your child has recently had an ear infection, be alert for one or more of the above symptoms!
When a child gets ear infections several times during a year, it is called recurrent otitis media. A preschool child with recurrent otitis media frequently experiences a temporary loss of hearing. The loss may continue for up to six weeks after the ear infection has healed. Such a hearing loss is described as "mild and fluctuating". This is a major cause of speech and language delay including auditory processing disorders.
Communication development is at its peak from twelve months through four years of age. Fluctuating hearing loss during that time interferes with learning speech and language. Children who can not hear clearly may "tune out" everyday sounds - even your voice! If your child has fluid in the middle ear, similar words may sound the same. It is not surprising that final consonants, past tense, and plural word endings are often left off by children with recurrent otitis media. Since they don't hear these sounds when others talk, they don't learn how to say them properly.
Children with recurrent otitis media over several months or years may develop:
Permanent hearing loss if left untreated
Speech and language loss
Problems focusing their attention
Problems with school work
Poor self esteem or Social problemsAuditory Processing Disorders
|Did you hear that? Hoping so!|