Hearing Health in Remote Quebec: A Case Study from a Native School
AbstractThe role of hearing as an essential sense in children's cognitive, communicative, and learning development is highly significant. The period of early childhood, marked by critical developmental milestones, underscores the crucial impact of sound hearing on language acquisition and socio-emotional growth. The detrimental effect of untreated hearing loss on a child's learning potential necessitates early detection and prompt intervention to address auditory impairments. Globally, many regions have recognized this need and established proactive strategies like hearing awareness and hearing screening programs. In Quebec, the Programme de Dépistage Auditif Néonatal is a noteworthy initiative aimed at identifying newborn hearing impairments early. However, despite this initial screening, children remain vulnerable to subsequent auditory issues such as otitis media and earwax obstruction during their formative years. We present here a case study from a partnership with a Native community with limited access to hearing-health-related services. Over the course of our visit, we screened a total of 29 students from the local school and found that six had full earwax occlusion, seven had partial occlusion, and eight warranted a full audiological evaluation. Additionally, we provided hearing health educative presentations with a focus on preventing the effects of noise, to five classes, ranging from pre-kindergarten to grade 8. The findings from this intervention underscored the need for sustained hearing screening and education programs for school-aged children, especially for regions with limited access to such services. These strategies would ensure early detection, prevention and management of hearing issues, thereby facilitating uninterrupted learning.
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