Hi. My name is Carolyn Mee and I am the Founder of Sound Scouts, a mobile App developed to check children’s hearing.
So why, you may ask, do we need a children’s hearing test. We know that in Australia children have their hearing checked at birth through the newborn hearing screening program, which is fabulous. This test picks up babies born with moderate to severe hearing loss and ensures they are fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implants as early as possible to minimise the impact of their hearing loss on their development.
Unfortunately what many parents don’t realise is that for every child found to have hearing loss at birth at least two more children are detected with hearing loss in the first three years of school. Which means some children are at school for three years with a hearing loss that no one knows about and this loss can impact their learning, socialising and their self-esteem. And of course these are the children who are lucky enough to get noticed. There’s no doubt many others who struggle with undetected hearing loss throughout their school years.
All our children should have their hearing tested before they start school so they have every opportunity to succeed. But unfortunately hearing screening is not currently being offered to Australian children so it’s up to parents to ensure their children can hear.
For adults it’s hard to imagine that a child isn’t able to recognise that their ears aren’t working properly. But how does a child know what normal hearing is if they’ve never experience it. You don’t know what you don’t know. And children adapt. They learn to lip read and they take their cues from what others are doing around them. They get by. Or so they think.
We recently met a 12year old Year 5 boy, who had a moderate hearing loss that no one had noticed. He was a quiet young man who had become withdrawn and because he wasn’t causing a fuss no one worried about him. His life outcomes would have been seriously limited by his hearing loss if we had not picked it up. Other children with hearing issues become noisy and disruptive. Because they can’t hear they lose interest and draw attention to themselves. In this situation one child with undetected hearing loss in the classroom can affect the entire class.
So the question is not why test but why not test?
Sound Scouts lets adults check a child’s hearing at home or at school, at a time that suits them. The children love it and it gives everyone peace of mind that a child is not being disadvantaged by a condition that can be remedied.
If you’ve screamed at your child “Are you deaf?” then it might be time to check that they’re not!