News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Hearing and vision screening underway for school children

(September 15, 2008) As a new school year starts, technicians from the local Health Department’s Hearing and Vision Screening Program are working with local school districts and preschools to provide screening to over 15,000 children, identifying problems early before they can interfere with children’s academic success.

“Undetected hearing and vision problems can affect a child’s ability to learn in the classroom,” said Pat Fralick, Director of Family and Community Health for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “Children with undetected hearing or vision problems are often labeled as having behavior problems or a learning disability. A proper screening allows a child who might have a hearing or vision problem to receive proper care.”

The Health Department conducts screenings according to guidelines of Michigan Department of Community Health. Hearing screening is recommended for all children at least once between the ages of three and five, and in kindergarten, second and fourth grades. Screening for vision problems is recommended at least one time between the ages of three and five years old, and in first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth grades (or in conjunction with driver training).

Early identification of hearing and vision problems can prevent developmental delays that relate to speech and language development, social and emotional development, academic achievement, and permanent vision loss.

Hearing and vision screening is also offered at no charge at Health Department offices in Mancelona, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs, and Gaylord for children who are in grades that will not receive screening in school this year. “Any parent who has concerns about their child’s hearing or vision—no matter what grade they are in—should call us,” Fralick said. “The sooner children’s hearing and vision problems can be identified and treated, the better.”

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about hearing and vision screening, or to make an appointment, call 800-432-4121