Can ear infections and hearing loss affect speech?

Learn about: Can ear infections and hearing loss affect speech? from Barbara Schacter, LCSW,...
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Can ear infections and hearing loss affect speech?

The first years of life are critical for developing speech and language. Often times, little children get ear infections. There are good reasons for this. The eustachian tube, which is the tube that connects the throat to the ear, is horizontal in little ones. And when they lay down, whatever infected fluid is in their throat will go into their ears. As they get older, that eustachian tube takes an oblique turn and it empties into their throat. That's why little kids get ear infections and adults get sore throats. Sometimes you can assist your child with an ear infection simply by elevating the head of their bed. If they're quiet sleepers, if they wake up in the same position that you put them down in, you can elevate the head of the bed and that will replicate the oblique turn that is necessary for the eustachian tube to drain into the throat. Now, developing speech is very difficult if a child has a hearing loss. If they have a conductive hearing loss, it sounds to them like they're listening under water. So they do need help; you should contact an otolaryngologist or an ENT doctor, possibly get tubes in their ears if indicated by the doctor, and then proceed with speech therapy to help close up the lag that they've lost because of the hearing disability.

Learn about: Can ear infections and hearing loss affect speech? from Barbara Schacter, LCSW,...


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Barbara Schacter, LCSW

Speech-Language Pathologist

Barbara was raised in New England, then attended The George Washington University for both undergraduate and graduate school.  She began as a dance major, but soon realized that she might have had a colorful, but short career and she was looking for a profession that would inspire and challenge her for many years.  As luck would have it, G.W.U. had an excellent speech pathology and audiology department. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree, the university offered her a fellowship for graduate school with an internship associated with not only their speech and hearing clinic, but with the George Washington University Hospital, as well. 

After graduate school, she secured a position in a private school for children with language and learning disabilities.  She followed that with a 10-year stint at a residential children's psychiatric center.  Longing to work with a more varied population, she then worked in a public school in New Jersey.  There, she developed and taught a language enrichment program for all kindergartners in the district and provided speech and language therapy for the two special education classes, as well as serving those students from kindergarten to sixth grade having articulation, fluency, voice, cleft palate, hearing impairment and language delays.  In 1992, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired by Saint John's Health Center to participate as a member on their cleft palate team as well as providing pediatric and geriatric out-patient speech and language services.  Several years later, she opened a private practice in Pacific Palisades, CA, which continues to this day.  She is delighted to say that she still gets a thrill out of the work she does...and that is such a gift!

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