Hearing Loss and Its Implications for Learning and Communication

Hearing Loss and Its Implications for Learning and Communication

Marelie Gous

Poor hearing is a serious problem for children. It affects their ability to learn to speak, read and be educated.

About one in every 1000 children is born with a significant hearing problem. About another one in 500 will develop such problems in childhood.

There are differing degrees of hearing loss, referred to as mild, moderate, severe and profound.  Even mild hearing loss can have a significant impact on a child’s development and should be addressed. Communication development and behavioural skills are influenced by a child’s ability to hear. When hearing loss goes undetected or is detected late (after 6 months of age), language and speech development can be delayed. This delay can affect a child’s social interactions, emotional development and academic performance.

Is Your Child at Risk for Hearing Loss?

If a child exhibits any or more of the following behaviours, a hearing assessment should be considered.  If the child:

  • Does not startle to loud noise during infancy.
  • Does not turn in the direction of sounds after 7 months of age.
  • Has a history of 3 or more ear infections in one year.
  • Often misunderstands what is said.
  • Constantly requests that information be repeated.
  • Frequently says “huh?” or “what?”
  • Have difficulty following verbal instructions
  • Gives inconsistent responses to sound in his/her environment
  • Turns up the volume of the television, radio or stereo
  • Gives slow or delayed response to spoken directions or requests
  • Has a short attention span
  • Finds it difficult to remember what was heard
  • Is easily distracted
  • Has difficulty listening or paying attention in the presence of background noise
  • Has delayed language development
  • Has poor speech development
  • Has reading, spelling and other academic problems or
  • Exhibits behaviour problems

Children with hearing loss may exhibit some, many, or none of these behaviours and the behaviours may be different at each age level. It is often difficult to determine if a child has a hearing loss or is exhibiting certain behaviours based on age and/or temperament. Hearing loss in newborns and infants is not readily detectable by routine clinical procedures such as behavioural observation. Children of all ages, even newborns, can have their hearing tested.

If your child fails a hearing screening or if your child’s response to sound seems different or inconsistent, you should have your child’s hearing evaluated by an audiologist who will be able to diagnose a hearing loss and guide you on the way forward.

Contact Marelie Gous Audiologists in Pretoria on 012 942 9539 for more information or visit www.audiologysa.co.za to find your nearest audiologist in South Africa.

Source: http://www.hearingandaudiology.com.au/about-us/blog/2016/january/back-to-school-hearing-loss-and-its-implications.aspx. Compiled by Marelie Gous.

This article was originally published in the autumn edition of My Child and I, 2018

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