Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It takes two good ears to hear language, so put a nickel on the drum

This article says 5% of kids have hearing loss in one ear when they enter school. They don't get discovered, because their hearing appears normal. But it does cause language deficits, about a 10% drop in scores on the OWLS test of language comprehension and expression. They matched the kids with normal hearing sibs to rule out environmental differences in language development. The effect is stronger in poor kids than rich kids and in kids of uneducated mothers. Isn't everything bad that can happen worse for them?

I wrote, "So one way to improve language comprehension and expression is to," and then I was stuck. The answer is to eliminate poverty and make sure every woman has a good education before she has kids. And while you're at it, cure all congenital diseases and make water gush from the desert.

A lot of things are possible for an individual that would not be possible for the nation. There are enough jobs that any one person maybe able to find one, but there are not enough that everyone can find one. we may be able to take any individual family and do something with them, but we can't do it with all of them. A lot of kids who could be saved from a crappy life won't be. Scaffolding works on the way down as well as the way up, if you don't have anything good to build on.

Jesus, I'm pessimistic this morning. I was just thinking, Maybe 5% have language deficits due to hearing loss in one ear, 1% are schizophrenic, 1% bipolar, 1% autistic, 1% each of several others, and, even with overlap, we're at 10% or 15% of the population who have serious bad stuff going on in their heads.

So when you see one of those homeless guys, mostly guys, panhandling at a street corner, give him a couple of bucks. He's probably not just lazy; he's probably physically disabled or nuts enough that he can't work, and he's one of those we didn't help in time. You could give to an organized charity, but if you give it directly to the homeless guy, the marginal utility of your two dollars is much greater; there's no admin. He might spend it on beer, but with a life and prospects like his, he might as well be as high as two bucks can make him.

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