By the time most children turn 8-years old, they are normally capable of reading at a sufficient level. However, have you ever wondered why some kids struggle harder than others with reading difficulties? Undiagnosed hearing loss may actually be an overlooked cause for this learning delay.
Many children sit in classroom settings throughout the entire school year without the teachers recognizing that a hearing problem even exists. The parents also remain in the dark regarding their kids’ ability to hear properly.
One definite sign that may point to a hearing problem in children is the lack of adequate reading skills. A study conducted by Academics at the University’s Center for Advances in Behavioral Science suggests that hearing loss is associated with poor reading abilities.
The participants in this study consisted of 195 students between the age of eight to ten, who were struggling with difficulties in reading. A total of 29 of the children had a history of repeated ear infections, and 36 of them had dyslexia.
Multiple tests were administered to the students to determine their reading and writing skills. The researchers also evaluated their ability to use words based on their sounds and meanings in speech and literacy.
The students were re-evaluated 18 months later using the same standardized testing. This time a thorough hearing screening was introduced.
The results indicated that 25% of the children were experiencing mild or moderate hearing loss that the parents or teachers never knew existed. This degree of hearing loss will make distinguishing speech sounds difficult, especially in a classroom setting with background noise.
The study concluded that nine out of the 36 children with dyslexia and one third of the students with a history of repeated ear infections were experiencing some level of hearing loss. Due to the inability to hear properly, these kids had issue with speech sounds, perception of spoken language and grammatical word structure.
The good news is that there are steps that both parents and teachers can take to help prevent these children from experiencing this type of learning delay. Awareness of potential hearing problems is the key.
Teachers should be notified of small children in their classrooms who have a history of multiple ear infections. This will enable them to watch these kids more closely for issues as they begin learning sound structure and reading.
Parents should also make sure that their children are screened properly for hearing problems. Many of the basic hearing evaluations used in schools may not identify mild hearing loss. A more thorough screening is recommended if your child is showing any of indications of hearing loss.
Outside of difficulties in reading, some other signs may include limited or poor speech, difficulties learning and failure to respond when there is a lot of background noise. If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, a simple visit to a hearing healthcare professional for a complete hearing evaluation may help prevent any future learning delays.