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01 April 2012

Prevention of communication disorders – screening pre-school and school-age children for problems with hearing, vision and speech: European Consensus Statement

Henryk SkarżyńskiAEG, Anna PiotrowskaAEF

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.882603

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(4): SR17-21

Abstract

Background: Communication is an integral part of human behaviour. Communication disorders are associated mainly with impairment in hearing, vision, and/or speech, which influences the ability to receive, comprehend, produce, and express verbal, nonverbal, and graphic information. When unrecognized and unmanaged, these very often “invisible” conditions can have a significant detrimental effect on a child’s development, affecting educational, social, and psychological progress.
Material/Methods: A panel of experts discussed the screening of pre-school and school-age children for problems with hearing, vision, and speech during the 10th Congress of the European Federation of Audiology Societies (EFAS), held in Warsaw, Poland, on 22 June, 2011.
Results: The European Consensus Statement on Hearing, Vision, and Speech Screening in Pre-School and School-Age Children was the result of the scientific discussions. It was endorsed by experts in audiology, otolaryngology, phoniatry, ophthalmology, and speech language pathology from throughout Europe. Key elements of the consensus, as described herein, are: 1) defining the role of screening programmes in the identification and treatment of communication disorders; 2) identifying the target population; 3) promoting general awareness about the consequences of communication disorders; 4) recognizing the need for a quality control system in screening programmes; 5) encouraging cooperation among European countries to provide a high level of public health services for the prevention, identification, and treatment of communication disorders.
Conclusions: The European Consensus Statement on Hearing, Vision, and Speech Screening in Pre-School and School-Age Children will encourage the appropriate authorities of the various countries involved to initiate screening for communication disorders in pre-school and school-age children.

Keywords: Public Health, Schools, Mass Screening, Hearing Disorders - prevention & control, Europe, Consensus, Child, Preschool, Child, Adolescent, Speech Disorders - prevention & control, Vision Disorders - prevention & control

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