Sense Screening Storytime: Making an Impact

Michelle Craig is home from work two days a week with her two youngest children, Noah (age 4) and Adeline (16 months). On those days, they participate in different area activities, a favorite being storytime at W. Clarke Swanson Branch. Unbeknownst to Michelle, the storytime they attended on September 7, 2018, included special guests from Boys Town Pediatrics, as part of its partnership with OPL, to screen for early signs of hearing impairment or language delay in OPL’s youngest patrons. 

Michelle hadn’t planned to get her children screened that day, but encouragement from library staff and no waiting prompted her to change her mind. After watching another child go through the screening exercise, she knew what to expect. When it was Noah’s turn, she noticed he wasn’t as responsive to the prompts given through his headphones. The screener confirmed that Noah did appear to be experiencing some hearing loss, and explained that it could, at times, be attributed to a cold or allergies. 

To ensure that the results of the test were not a fluke, Michelle had Noah screened again at two different storytimes, with the same results. With three failed attempts, it was time to visit the doctor. 

A full hearing exam found moderate hearing loss in Noah, and his hearing loss was even worse when retested one month later. “The eustachian tubes in his ears weren’t relieving any pressure,” said Michelle. “It was like being in an airplane when your ears won’t pop to adjust to the altitude. He was hearing like this all the time.” 

Faced with the decision about whether or not to opt for surgery, and realizing that Noah was at a pivotal age for learning and development, Michelle and her husband decided there was no time to lose. Noah’s surgery for ear tubes to help relieve the pressure was scheduled for January 15, 2019. The procedure went smoothly and his hearing was perfect at his follow-up appointment! 

Noah’s parents will check back often to ensure his hearing remains at a high level and focus on his speech. They realized that some of his word enunciations were not quite right, and while this is normal for a 4 year old, they believed that it could be directly related to Noah’s hearing deficit.

Noah will have no trouble finding the words needed to practice his speech. He loves books, just like the rest of his family, and often has many books on hold or checked out at any given time. 

“The library is such a great resource for so many things -- family storytimes, out and about activities, toys, movies, games, passes to local museums/attractions and books,” Michelle said. “Storytimes are a perfect fit to integrate sense screenings because they are typically for the 5 and younger kids... Kids who are still learning language and have difficulty clearly expressing themselves, so it can be difficult to even know there is a problem.”

OPL is grateful to be a part of this story and to make an impact with offerings to this community through public and private support, as well as valuable community partnerships with Boys Town Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning; and Lions Club International.

See the full schedule of 2019 Sense Screening Storytimes here