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Last month, our education support staff hosted a day of hearing exams with support from the University San Carlos. They performed 57 exams on mostly children along with a few adults.
Mariela España, psychologist and speech therapist for Common Hope, organized the event. She says that hearing loss is very common in Guatemala, because people are exposed to a lot of loud noise on a daily basis, including diesel buses and firecrackers. People start losing their hearing around 40 or 50 years old in Guatemala because of the loud noise. The hearing tests are very important for educational success, because when a child is young and still learning to talk, if they have hearing problems, they will end up having speech problems as well.
Mariela usually conducts hearing exams at Common Hope herself, but she wanted to do an exam day to be able to test a large group at once. She invited university students and two professors from the University San Carlos to perform the exams. Children were referred by Common Hope staff and teachers from our partner schools. The students referred have shown possible symptoms of hearing loss, including difficulty with homework, not responding when called on, or having frequent ear infections.
This week, Mariela will meet with the students who tested poorly to retest and confirm the results. She will then recommend treatments depending on the issue. If they have ear infections, she will refer them to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. If they have hearing loss, Common Hope will get affiliated children a hearing aid. Children who are not affiliated with Common Hope will be referred to public health services. If children don’t have a hearing problem, our Education Support staff will work with them to figure out if they have a learning disability, and they might also be referred for an eye exam.
Mariela says that one of the best things she observed was that the university students from San Carlos not only had a great experience practicing what they are studying but also they had the opportunity to serve low-income students—a valuable experience for Guatemalans from diverse backgrounds to have. Many thanks to the University of San Carlos for the support!