School Hearing Programs

School Hearing ScreeningsWith approximately 15 percent of school-aged children experiencing some degree of hearing loss, hearing screenings represent a crucial early step in ensuring communication access, which is key to academic and social success, according to Dr. Lindsay Bondurant, director of the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) of Salus University. The desire to give back to the community and to ensure Doctor of Audiology students in the University’s Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) have an increased number of opportunities to experience pediatric patients was the driving force behind the creation of PEI’s school hearing screening program, which launched prior to the 2016-17 academic year.

“School hearing screenings are something I feel very strongly about because if a child is having trouble hearing, it’s going to spill over into every area of their life,” said Dr. Bondurant. “They are likely to have difficulty learning, following directions, making friends, demonstrating appropriate behavior, social activities, even sports – all kinds of things hearing and listening play a large role in.”

Dr. Bondurant believes PEI has a responsibility to help local school children due to its unique positioning in the Philadelphia area. 

“Especially in current times, school districts are really crunched for time and money and school nurses have a lot of responsibilities,” Dr. Bondurant said. “It’s difficult for them to be able to screen the number of kids mandated by the state. I feel like that’s an opportunity for us to assist them to the extent that we can because we have the only Doctor of Audiology training program in the Philadelphia area.” 

Without hearing screenings, recognizing a hearing issue can be challenging for both teachers and parents. Children with hearing difficulties may not realize they have an issue and may be perceived as an unmotivated student or one with poor attention skills, according to Dr. Bondurant.

“Children with undetected hearing loss may have trouble keeping up in basic early learning skills. If they had trouble developing those early foundational skills for math and spelling, they are lacking those basic building blocks,” she said. “While they are trying to catch up, they keep falling further and further behind as other kids are moving forward. It becomes a big snowball effect, so early identification and early interventions are absolutely the name of the game.”  

Even if the child has struggled with undetected and untreated hearing loss before the PEI team arrives at the school, no issue is to too early or late to address, according to Dr. Bondurant. 

“I think any time we identify a hearing issue with a child, we need to do anything we can to provide support to that child,” she said. “It’s never too late to do something to make their life easier and give them support.”