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Does my child have a hearing problem?

Q: I want to share my 3.5 years old son's behaviour with you: He is not able to speak properly and mostly uses actions to express his views. He likes rhymes, even though he does not know ABCD and he sings many Christian songs (as we sing in churches and at home) exactly in tune. He can correctly point out things like an apple and understands each word. He generally follows whatever we ask him to do but never shows interest in writing and if we compel him, he cries. If we ask him to urinate he understands perfectly but never says he wants to urinate or go to the toilet. We have put him in a play school and the teachers are saying that he is showing tremendous improvement. The teachers also say that he plays with the children a lot and all the children love him but in public we hardly see him playing with other children. The worst part is that he has not so far clearly called 'mama' or 'papa' but he calls his grandmother very correctly. We are Tamilians presently residing in Bihar and speak Tamil at home. The KG school admissions start from May. We are planning to take him to NIMHANS. His auditory checkup at NISH (Trivandrum) was reported to be quite abnormal. Please advise us what to do and can we put him in a normal school?

A:I think your observations are quite detailed and that is good. Any intervention suggested by experts is bound to be followed carefully by you, at home. You mention that the test of hearing done in Trivandrum showed some deviation. If he has a hearing problem, you must attend to it at the earliest. If you happen to come to Chennai, I could suggest a person called Dr. Saraswathi, who heads Bala Vidyalaya near Adyar in the city, which is an excellent programme, for assessment and teaching of the hearing impaired. Vidya Sagar in Chennai (Madras) is also a good place for assessment of young children. The address is No. 1, Ranjit Road, Kotturpuram. Their tel nos. are 2235 4784 and 2235 4785. So if you do plan to come South, maybe your first stop could be at Chennai. Of course, all the big cities will have some experts, so you should suit your travel plans and stay. For the moment, do not force the child to write, as he seems to protest. Three years is too early for it anyway. Give him clay to play with and mould (or plasticine) and large paint brushes. A piece of chalk to scribble on the floor will also help his fingers to develop control. Since he has shown improvement according to the teachers in the Play School, continuing him there is a good idea. Do not rush him into entrance tests and interviews, till you have a clearer picture of how you can help his development. All the best.

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