July 1, India celebrates National Doctor's Day to honor the efforts of medical professionals. Additionally, the purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the value of doctors, their selfless service, and the crucial role they play in enhancing the health and wellbeing of people and communities. Devangi Dalal is an Audiologist and Speech-language Pathologist who is also the Center Director of Hearing Hearts. Her vision of this institute is a one-stop solution—a holistic approach to any child or adult who seeks help. She shares some insights today on the occasion of National Doctors Day on how certain unnoticed health issues can lead to behavioural problems in children.
After the pandemic, the healthcare problems were worse. When it comes to adults, they are more expressive about how they feel, but when it comes to children, we have to understand that they might not be able to express how they feel. So, instead of doing home remedies for small problems like the common cold, it might not even be beneficial and may need medical assistance and a physician's attention. Recurrent colds and coughs might lead to the accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum, which, if not treated at the right time, might lead to infections. One of the other major problems that goes unnoticed is Ear wax. Earwax can accumulate and clog the ear canal, causing discomfort and even interfering with hearing. Besides being irritating for children, this can also lead to unclear speech. Due to unclear speech, the child might sometimes pick up wrong or incorrect words or just stay aloof due to not hearing appropriately. Observing such behaviours in the child unknowingly, the child might be misdiagnosed as a child with autistic features just because the child has been taken to the concerned professional with a certain set of behavioural challenges noticed by parents.
As we discussed earlier about the different ear infections and ear wax, there is one more emerging major concern, which is long exposure to screens or digital gadgets. We would have often noticed in family gatherings and restaurants that when the parents want to feed the baby, they are given mobile phones in the child's hand so that they can sit and eat. This is a very common practice, but what we are failing to do here is talk to the child and create a conversation about that event. If the child is set free and given the plate to eat by himself or herself, his or her hand-eye coordination improves. He or she touches the texture of the food and also understands his or her appetite. If the child is cranky, they are given phones with some rhymes on them, and the child becomes silent. This kind of practice needs to stop. This is hindering the child's speech and language development. Children become stubborn if the same reinforcement is not provided. This behaviour continues to become a temper tantrum problem, and the child starts to lose communication skills.
Devangi Dalal |
Behavioural issues like stubbornness and temper tantrums will have to be treated in the correct form and at the right age. Only shouting at the child or stopping him from doing things will worsen the situation. Children's minds are well neurally connected, and whatever the child learns in their first six years of life will be there with them, imprinted for life. Therefore, if you have a child with such behaviours or the parent observes such behaviours in the child, he or she must be given a holistic approach and evaluated for each and every sector as early as possible.
If we encounter any child with the same or similar complaints, as a group of professionals, we use a holistic approach, which includes the assessment of the child's speech-language development, their motor abilities by the occupational therapist, and cognitive assessment if required. We believe that if the child is given all three, i.e., emotional, behavioural and physical support, then progress will be much faster and in a positive manner.
Hearing Hearts is a clinic with a holistic approach to patients. It's an institution that provides proper guidance to them, right from diagnosis to rehabilitation, focused on their needs and requirements. They believe that the medical profession is a blessing to society. Devangi Dalal considers Neonatal hearing screenings a crucial step in her profession and also requests that other doctors not take this lightly.