The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 15 percent of children between ages six and 19 have hearing loss in one or both ears. Left untreated, this can have disastrous effects on speech and language development as well as academic performance. In fact, research shows that 25-35 percent of children with unilateral hearing loss are at risk of failing at least one grade level.
The Education Gap Between Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Students
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), children with mild to moderate hearing loss who don’t receive treatment are likely to fall behind their normal-hearing peers by one to four grade levels. Furthermore, those with severe hearing loss who don’t receive intervention usually do not progress beyond the third-grade level.
Hearing loss doesn’t make a child any less intelligent or capable of learning; classroom environments simply aren’t set up to accommodate hearing loss. For example, a teacher is likely to speak to the class while facing the whiteboard, making their voice more difficult to hear and lip-reading impossible. Providing oral instruction, especially if the instructor has an unfamiliar accent or speaks rapidly, puts children with hearing loss at a disadvantage.
When a child cannot hear well, they may have difficulty discriminating between certain consonant sounds, especially ch, f, k, p, s, sh, t and th. This can cause confusion, for example, if a student can’t tell the difference between the words “chick” and “thick.”
Hearing Aids Narrow the Gap
A study published in 2015 by the University of Iowa found that hearing-impaired children learn speech and language better when they use hearing aids, especially if they receive treatment early.
Researchers followed 180 preschool-age kids with hearing loss and assessed records of universal newborn screenings and referrals from clinical service providers. They found that all the children who wore hearing aids experienced better speech and language development compared to children who went untreated. They also found that the longer the child had worn hearing aids, the better the outcomes.
“The cautionary note from our research is that any degree of hearing loss, even mild, can place children at risk. Our study shows that the risk can be minimized with early and aggressive intervention,” said Bruce Tomblin, professor in the University of Iowa’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
If your child is having difficulty in school and showing signs of possible hearing loss, it’s important to get them tested as soon as possible. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.