Guidelines for managing school-age children with unilateral hearing losses

An estimated 3 per 1,000 school-age children have permanent unilateral hearing loss. These children typically have problems in one or more of the following areas:

Research continues to reveal that children with unilateral hearing loss are at a higher risk for grade failure. Two clinical reports suggest that at least 35% of these children repeat one or more grades compared to 3.5% of their normal hearing counterparts.

To minimize potential problems, we suggest the following guidelines:

S-P-E-E-C-H

The following mnemonic device highlights basic strategies for communicating with children with hearing impairments:

- State the topic to be discussed before initiating a conversation.

- Pace your conversation at a moderate rate and at a normal conversational loudness with occasional pauses to permit comprehension.

- Enunciate clearly without exaggerated lip movement.

- Enthusiastically communicate, using body language and natural gestures.

- CHeck comprehension before changing topics.

Since many unilateral hearing losses are congenital (at birth) or of early onset, these guidelines should be considered as soon as a hearing impairment is identified. Education and guidance for parents regarding these strategies are essential components of aural habilitation.

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