The Dragonfly Story

Where / How Can I Get Help?

Whole of community approach

A community approach to reduce conductive hearing loss / otitis media is vital. Such an approach should aim to:

  • develop an awareness of otitis media and conductive hearing loss, and
  • implement appropriate intervention strategies.

Parent and teacher awareness of hearing loss is critical if the negative educational and social consequences of hearing loss are to be avoided (Howard 1997).

Who can help?

Medical services may include:

  • general practitioner (GP);
  • The Royal Flying Doctor Service;
  • Indigenous medical services;
  • hospitals;
  • paediatricians;
  • speech pathologists;
  • audiologists;
  • nurses;
  • dietitians, and
  • private medical centres.

Suppliers of these services  need to work together to provide children with the support and intervention strategies they require.

How can schools help?

Schools can play a significant role in the identification and support of children experiencing CHL / OM. Through their links with parents and local community services, schools can implement appropriate intervention strategies which will greatly assist a child’s social, emotional, educational and physical development. The school team may include teachers, Indigenous education workers, school nurses, teachers at the desk, psychologists and teachers assistants.

How can families help?

It’s long been recognised that the family unit working closely with professional support agencies is the most effective approach to managing and preventing otitis media. This approach may include:

  • joint development of treatment strategies;
  • ensuring that the families needs and concerns about treatment are reflected in these strategies;
  • consulting with families to ensure that any treatment prescribed is sensitive to cultural and individual differences within each family, and
  • ensuring that families are kept aware of treatment progress and are provided with clear and precise information so that they can take an active part in the management of the health of their child.

The family unit include a child’s mother and father, siblings, aunties and uncles, grandparents, cousins and close friends.

What do health workers do?

Health workers are an integral part of a community approach to CHL / OM.  Health workers may include:

  • community health nurses;
  • Indigenous health workers;
  • infant health sisters and community nurses, and
  • health clinics.

What do audiologists do?

The role of the audiologist is a varied one.  In communities with high rates of CHL / OM the audiologist will be involved in hearing assessments and referring children to the appropriate health, education and other professional care givers. The audiologist may also be involved in the fitting of amplification devices such as hearing aids, bone conductors, FM and sound amplification systems. In Indigenous communities, the audiologist works closely with the community to ensure that the hearing health program take into consideration the cultural needs of these groups. Finally the audiologist may also be involved in the design and implementation of community based health programmes to increase community awareness of CHL / OM and the importance of early detection and intervention.

What do speech pathologists do?

The speech pathologist can play a number of very important roles in supporting a child with CHL / OM. These include:

  • assisting the audiologist to interpret the results of a child’s hearing test;
  • developing individual profiles on a child’s auditory history and current auditory capacity, and
  • developing remediation strategies and establishing programmes with teachers and parents that will meet the individual speech and language needs of the child with CHL / OM.

In many cases the speech pathologist will also be able to develop programmes which integrate with existing school programmes such as the First Steps Resources Package. If you are unsure of the availability of the Speech Pathologist in your area contact your local community health services.