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Hearing problems

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So ds 11 has just started school for the first time.  Everything is going well.  He mentioned that he didn't think he could hear very well so I took him to the Dr who checked out his ears and they are clear.  He also did a very crude hearing test, whispering behind his hand which ds could hear fine.


I then explained that when I questioned ds further about what he thought the problem is, he said that when he is in a group, he can't make out what people are saying, it is all a blur, blah blah blah is how he phrased it.


The Dr referred ds to have his hearing checked properly.  They wire them up with headphones and ds presses a buzzer when he hears the sound.


Would this type of test be able to find out what's wrong bearing in mind what ds is telling me about the problem?  Has anyone else got a child with a similar problem?








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Yes, this type of test by an audiologist who tests children regularly is the best next step to figuring out the problem. (Speaking as a speech-language pathologist). Definitely have him describe the problems he's having. If a hearing loss is ruled out, they may recommend speech-language or other testing. Yay mom for working to figure it out!

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There's hearing loss and there are auditory processing disorders.  It's good that you're getting this checked, so they can sort out what's going on.  A complete test for APD requires a specialized booth and not everyone does it.  


If you want to do more reading, look for the book When the Brain Can't Hear.

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There's hearing loss and there are auditory processing disorders.  I


Yes, this.  We have both in my family.  The first is a result of ear issues, the second is brain issues.  I don't know if a simple buzz-when-you-hear-the-word test would pick up on the second, but they would probably refer you to a speech-language pathologist.


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StephanieF,  what your son describes, is quite likely an 'Auditory Figure-Ground' difficulty?

Which is essentially a difficulty with filtering out 'competing sounds'.


" Auditory Figure-Ground: Assesses the child’s ability to understand speech in the presence of noise.  Children with Auditory Figure-Ground problems have trouble putting the background noise in the background!  It often gets “jumbled†or confused with the foreground, or primary, message and lead to difficulties understanding the primary message."


Though this raises an interesting about the transition from homeschooling to the classroom?

Where the ability to filter out competing sounds, is actually an acquired skill.

But I would suggest that with HSing, that most children aren't regularly exposed to similar competing sound situations, as in a classroom?

Where most classrooms are designed to increase this problem?

With 'hard surfaces' of walls, floors, desks, are perfect for reflecting sounds.

Where it is not just a problem with competing voices?

But also the collective noise created by each student as they move in their chair, work on their desk, etc.

Which creates a general cacophony.

Though for children that have always done schooling in classrooms? Then from grade 1, they learned how to filter out the general noise in the classroom.

But for HSchooler's, this maybe something that they never learned how to cope with?


Though I've been doing study and research into this, for about 5 years.  With 2 APD organizations. Where I've been trialing a method to correct this.

Which has 2 stages.

Firstly, it covers the ability to locate the direction a sound is coming from.

Where hearing can be focused in similar way to vision.


The second part, involves practicing 'listening', with competing sound/s.

Which starts with competing sound/s at low volume, and then gradually increasing them.


Then the third part, practices 'switching listening'?

Which simply uses a TV and a Radio in the same room.

With both on at around the same volume.

It just involves practicing switching the focus of hearing, from what is being said on the TV, to Radio and back and forth.


Where it basically just involves practicing how to focus hearing, and put other sound/s in the background.

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Like others mentioned, this could be hearing loss or auditory processing issues. And hearing loss is such a spectrum that it's good he's getting a proper test to check for that. My DD has moderate to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and she really struggles to hear in large groups. With her hearing aids one-on-one she's often fine but in groups she really struggles to differentiate sounds. I can definitely see how a kid with mild hearing loss could have symptoms first appear in group settings. Especially if he's had hearing loss for awhile. My daughter didn't realize it wasn't normal to hear things sort of fuzzy and still tries to leave her hearing aids off occasionally and thinks she gets by okay without them. People can get used to a lot of less-than-ideal hearing or sight :)


If he passes the hearing test with flying colors I'd maybe look into auditory processing. 

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I have a child with auditory processing disorder (APD--sometimes termed CAPD--Central Auditory Processing Disorder) who now attends private high school.  Auditory processing goes beyond simply hearing tones, but not every audiologist tests for APD/CAPD when they conduct hearing tests.  And there are different types of APD.


My son has difficulty primarily with both background noise and with differentiating some similar sounds.  He supplements his hearing sometimes through lip reading.  We try address this in the classroom through things like asking that he sit up front in the class and away from any obvious sources of noise.  We've also asked for teachers to convey all homework through writing, rather than just giving oral instructions on what is due.  It's frustrating at times trying to get all this addressed. I found out recently that the school hadn't relayed the information to all his teachers this year because of "student privacy".  Trying to implement the suggestions from the audiologist to help my son in a classroom situation has been rather frustrating.


I second the suggestion to read "When the Brain Can't Hear" by Teri James Bellis. 

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The symptoms your son describes could be unilateral hearing loss which is when you have normal hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other.  People with unilateral loss can often compensate one on one, but have trouble in noisy environments.




An audiologist is definitely the way to go.  From my experience the test will be more sophisticated than just buzzing when you hear a sound.  They tested me for listening comprehension by reading a list of short simple words separately into each ear and having me say the word.  (Short simple words are harder because they give you fewer clues so you aren't just guessing.)  The difference between the two ears was staggering, like 95% correct versus 28% correct.  This is where you can get the blah blah blahs!  With my bad ear I can hear you talking, but I can't figure out what you are saying. 

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