The idea that hearing loss is something that happens to people in their old age simply is absolutely unfounded. Hearing loss affects people of all ages. In fact,2 to 3 of every 1,000 U.S. babies are born with a detectable hearing loss and 1 in 8 U.S. kids ages 6 to 19 has hearing loss from using earbuds to listen to music at unsafe volumes. It is important to identify these hearing issues as they could cause issues with learning in school. Communication issues can create social, emotional and learning barriers. A new report from Coventry University, UK examined undetected hearing problems and found that they could be a major cause in some cases of children with reading difficulties.
Research into Learning Issues
The UK study discovered that one in four of its young participants who struggled with reading displayed mild or moderate hearing impairment. In all of these cases the parents of these children had not diagnosed the hearing loss. While most children have their hearing tested at birth, a hearing loss can begin at any point in life for many different reasons, such as unsafe listening or sound exposure, head trauma and chronic ear infections. The more we test our children throughout their childhood, the more we can prevent hearing issues from impacting academic achievements.
The Connection Between Hearing and Learning
Untreated hearing loss has the potential to cause delays in the development of speech and language. Because it is difficult to hear, it can be a challenge for children to maintain attention and act out or seem distracted. All too often poor academic performance is misdiagnosed as ADD and ADHD instead of hearing loss. The more you can diagnose learning difficulties when they are attributed to hearing loss, the better of a chance there is of helping these children succeed and learn in an educational setting.
Connecting Children with Hearing Loss
It is important to institute accommodations for children with hearing loss so they can participate equally to those with normal hearing. Simple actions from teachers can help children with listening issues succeed. For instance, instructors should only speak when facing the classroom. This allows the students with hearing loss to rely on lip reading and facial expression to supplement what they can’t hear. If the teacher is speaking while writing on a blackboard it directs the sound of the teacher’s voice away from the students, subduing the sound and making it more difficult to understand. It is also important for instructors to speak slowly and clearly so children with hearing loss can follow easier. When a teacher is aware of a child in the class with hearing issues they can also employ technology such as apps that turn talk to text. It may also be helpful to type up notes and worksheets for the class so they can refer to them later.
Keeping Children Engaged
One of the biggest hurdles in education for those with hearing loss is frustration and confusion. Often, hearing loss presents itself as the absence of certain tones, pitches or sounds. This can make some sounds, such as consonants like ch, f, k, p, s, sh, t and th become easily mistakable. Imagine the confusion for students who struggle to hear the difference between words which sound all too similar with hearing loss.
Another hurdle for students with unaddressed hearing loss is the social stress of not being able to hear their classmates. One of the most important parts of school is learning how to socialize. Communication is vital to social interactions and healthy peer relationships. This is why children with hearing issues also can struggle from loneliness and unhappiness. This can leak into a child’s academic performance and the motivation to learn.
Hearing Aids Can Make a Big Difference
While the majority of cases of hearing loss are permanent, they can be treated effectively with hearing aids. Hearing aids can help language and reading development as well as help improve social connection. Research shows that students who wear assistive listening devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants perform just as well as their peers with normal hearing.
If you believe your child is suffering from hearing loss, schedule a hearing test today. The sooner you can address the issue, the more likely they can participate and enjoy reading and education in the future.