By Lisa M. Belisle, MD, MPH
Originally published December 2003, Parent & Family
In the August/September 2003 issue of Parent & Family, I addressed the relationship between inner ear problems and speech problems in children. The following letter provides a reminder that even though I gave examples of specific cases in the column, the information from those cases may not be generalizable to every patient, and that it is always important to consult with your own health care provider when you have questions about your child.
Dear Dr. Belisle,
As a speech language pathologist, I found your article regarding hearing and speech development very interesting and informative for parents. However, I must comment on your advice to parents. You stated, “If the hearing test is normal, the child should be evaluated further by a speech-language pathologist.” Any child that presents with a communication problem that is not clearly developmental in nature, should be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist (whether or not their hearing is normal).
You also stated, “Once the fluid build-up is dealt with, her expressive language will improve.” Although treating chronic fluid will often spontaneously improve speech and language, this is not always the case. Many children have speech and language (receptive and expressive) delays that result from a fluctuating hearing loss due to chronic fluid. During their early years of development, speech sounds and/or grammatical structures were not being heard correctly. Therefore, the sounds and structures do not develop normally for those children. The fluid/hearing problem may be treated, but the language problem persists.
Anita D. Koss, MS, CCC-SLP