Hear, Hear! People with hearing loss comprise the largest disability group. Hearing impairment is difficult to detect or even misdiagnosed in early years.
As a result many children muddle along and their teachers may label them as behaviour problems or as slow learners. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss is essential for normal development.
Our club has teamed up with CHEO and First Words to provide a child friendly 'Hearing Screening Clinic' for the past 3 months on the last Saturday of the month in Ottawa. Families are received in a community centre setting. Families wait in a play room where children can play. Refreshments are provided. Every effort was made to make the screening visit convenient and relaxed.
Kiwanis also offered free taxi slips for transportation, however there were no requests.
Parent and child are escorted to a nearby makeshift hearing screening room, where an audiologist explains the procedure and carries out non invasive testing with a tiny instrument. The child is usually given a gift of book and a Polaroid picture after completing a 20 minute session.
Kiwanians from the 'Hands on' and Young Children Priority 1 Committees are present to provide volunteer assistance.
The Kiwanis Medical Foundation has funded a 3-month pilot pro-gram costing less than $1000. The results from the three clinics have been very satisfying because we are making a difference in a child's life.
We are offering a more user friendly alternative of testing compared with intimidating hospital location. Together we have screened a total of 53 children and referred 22 children for further testing during the 3 experimental clinics. It is expected that 10 of these children will go to ear, nose & throat specialists requiring varying degrees of treatment.
One child was discovered to have permanent hearing loss. This is very important to know, to be able to arrange medical therapy or additional assistance in school and home. Networking with CHEO and First Words has been a win-win situation for all especially in our community The partners were enthusiastic and unanimous in their support to expand this service in the Region and possibly beyond for 1 year. It is important to realize that sooner the child gets help the more likely his/her development will be normal and healthy.
We are meeting Kiwanis International's mandate.
Sam Bhargava, Member Young Children - Priority One Committee.