It can be hard to assess whether a teenager is having difficulty hearing based solely on their behavior, as the signs often match “typical” teenage stereotypes. Parents need to open their minds to the possibility that hearing loss is the culprit when they notice teens doing the following:
- Turning up the television or stereo excessively loud while insisting it sounds “fine” to them
- Speaking in a raised voice when holding normal conversations, or conversely, mumbling or talking too softly
- Seemingly ignoring you when you talk to them in a normal tone of voice
- Frequently saying they didn’t hear you or someone else when called out for not following directions to or responding to a speaker
- Complaining about hearing a whining, buzz, hum, or other noise that you don’t (possible indication of hearing damage known as tinnitus)
- Bringing home lower grades than in previous semesters without other explanation
- Receiving negative feedback from teachers on classroom participation, missing or incorrect assignments, and other scholastic issues
- Spending less time with friends and generally not wanting to go out like they used to
What adults can do to help
Don’t brush off these possible red flags of hearing difficulties as typical teen behavioral issues. Talk to your child about them and try to identify the root cause. If you suspect hearing loss, schedule an appointment with your child’s primary care physician. Let the doctor know you’re concerned that your teen isn’t hearing well and you’d like to have their hearing evaluated. If their physician agrees there’s cause for concern, they will likely refer you to an audiologist to have their hearing tested.
If it turns out that your teen does indeed have hearing loss, don’t despair ― many treatment options are available to improve their hearing and give them the best possible assistance in completing their education. Ask about hearing aids that offer comfort and discretion while restoring the ability to hear and understand speech clearly again.