Q:

I moved my third-grader to a new school because he was lost in a very noisy open classroom with 100 children and four teachers. Before we discovered that my son's attention problems were really hearing problems, his teacher kept criticizing him for failing to follow directions. There were times when he simply couldn't hear her because of problems with recurring ear infections.

I just wanted to tell others that attention problems can be hearing problems. Things are much better for him at the new school because it's easier for him to hear in a small, quiet classroom. - Not an Attention Problem

A:

When problems occur in school, parents and teachers do not always consider how well a child hears. Without good hearing, children can have serious problems in a classroom and not really know why. The International Reading Association suggests that parents should request a hearing test if a child exhibits several of the following signs:

  • recurrent middle-ear infections
  • frequent daydreaming
  • inattention to directions at least half the time
  • frequent misunderstanding of others' speech
  • short attention span for verbal information
  • distraction by background noise
  • frequent requests for others to repeat themselves
  • startling at sudden sound or movement
  • difficulty in grasping age-appropriate vocabulary and concepts
  • poor articulation

The IRA has a booklet (Your Child's Hearing Is Important) that tells parents about the different types of hearing problems children might have and ways to diagnose and treat them. It is available for a fee by contacting the IRA Call Center at 1-800-336-7323.