Educational Editorial: Hearing loss

By Dr. Bill Bosher
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The Richmond Times Dispatch has reported a Harvard study showing that 20% of young people between 12 and 19 have hearing loss…probably 6.5 million nationwide.  Linguistically, they will hear vowels but will miss consonant sounds like t, k and s noted the author. He also highlighted, "although speech will be detectable, it will not be fully intelligible."

My wife says that I have always had selective hearing. We tune out…I call it focus. This past week with Lunenburg County Public Schools I mentioned that some psychologists say that we only hold the attention of a group for 3 to 8 seconds. We try to look like we are paying attention when we are not…we go outside. We think about other things. We even have an expression for it…"oh, I am sorry I lost my train of thought". We don't lose our trains of thought, we leave the building and when we return we can't find the spot from which we departed. While it is not socially acceptable to say that we were not paying attention, it's ok to "lose our trains of thought."

We are raising a group of young people with limited focus who also can't hear. The culprit is, of course, music played on volume "10". When I am at a stoplight and hear the music from a car two lanes over…with all the windows rolled up…I wonder what it must be like inside the vehicle. When I pass a student with ear plugs embedded, and I can hear the lyrics, I wonder what it must be like inside that head…not to ignore the fact that the student never responds to "good morning" because he is trapped in a self imposed world of sound. Hearing loss is critical…but many who are hearing impaired are fully aware of all that is happening around them. Perhaps it is attention loss that is the problem….let's crank it down and listen.

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