Speech and Language problems? It could be glue ear

Extract from Special Needs Jungle, 30 October 2015

One of the questions you are likely to be asked if your child is assessed by a speech and language therapist is, “has their hearing been tested?” The link between speech

and hearing is an obvious one – if you can’t hear, then you are likely to have difficulty speaking clearly. They may also have difficulty with understanding language and interacting with others. Hearing can affect a range of other skills.

Often the answer that I get when asking about hearing is that it has been tested at the newborn hearing screen. This screening test is fantastic. Since 2006, all babies in the UK now have their hearing tested within the first few weeks of life. This has led to many children with significant hearing loss being picked up much earlier and therefore being able to get intervention and support earlier, leading to better outcomes. Fantastic!

However, not everyone is aware that just because your child has passed the newborn hearing screening, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is not a hearing difficulty.

There are two types of hearing loss – conductive and sensori-neural. A sensori-neural loss affects the inner ear (cochlear) or the hearing centre in the brain. A conductive loss affects the outer or middle ear. You can have one or the other or a combination of the two.

The hearing screening will pick up on most sensori-neural losses. However, conductive losses can develop (most commonly through otitis media with effusion – commonly known as “glue ear”).

Glue ear is a very common problem in young children…

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