PLUM HATS to help identify hearing and speech problems in First Nations children

PLUM HATS to help identify hearing and speech problems in First Nations children

by Freya Lucas

September 18, 2020

New tools are available to those working in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector to help identify hearing and speech problems early in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.


Hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is most commonly due to middle ear infection (or otitis media). These infections can be painless and frequently start in babies aged under one year of age. Because the signs are subtle, hearing loss in young children is often not picked up until they start school, at which time they can affect a child’s learning and development. 


If such problems are left untreated, long term damage can occur, and as such, those working closely with children in ECEC settings play an important role in picking up any problems as early as possible.


When children have good hearing, language acquisition is easier, and are more able to listen to stories, attend to instructions, and participate fully in play, giving them a strong start in life. 


To support the ECEC sector, Hearing Australia has co-developed the Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services.


PLUM and HATS is a simple checklist tool, which helps to see whether your young babies and toddlers are on track with their listening and talking skills.


The free tools are designed for health and childcare workers to use, with extra information available for parents and families too, including tips on listening and yarning skills for children from birth to five years of age.


The assessments take 10 – 15 minutes and can be done as part of an annual health check, or when there are concerns about ear trouble.


For more information, please visit the PLUM and HATS website, here.