The importance of hearing in learning at school
Language is learned through exposure to sounds. Children pick up words they hear in their environment. But language development is not the only thing that depends on your child’s ability to hear. Their listening skills also influence their ability to learn to both read and write, and they greatly influence their social skills as well.
To develop spoken language, children must be able to hear speech clearly and also to hear themselves. If a child suffers from hearing loss, their basic language development will often be delayed. As the child grows, they face a range of challenges during different stages of their lives, from infancy through the school years and beyond. Their hearing loss will impact their life in different environments such as school, sports and other leisure activities, which will further isolate them from others. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial.
What are the causes?
Hearing loss in children can occur as a result of various possibilities, irrespective of being born with it or if they got it when they’re older.
Some of the possible causes hearing loss that children are born with are:
- Infections at the time of pregnancy (German measles, toxoplasmosis, and cytomegalovirus)
- Medication like antibiotics used during pregnancy
- Birth complications
- Nervous system or brain disorder
- Genetic syndromes; for example, Ushers, Down’s and Waardenburg’s syndromes
- Family history of hearing loss
Acquired hearing loss is likely to happen due to some of the following reasons:
- Middle-ear infections left untreated
- Other infections like meningitis, mumps, measles or whooping cough
- Eardrum perforation
- Excessive exposure to extreme noise, such as fireworks or loud music
- Diseases like otosclerosis or Ménière’s disease
- Head injury
- Ototoxic medication (like
Common signs of hearing loss:
- If a child responds unusually slowly or not at all when being spoken to when he’s not facing you
- When the child doesn’t seem frightened by sudden loud noises such as a door slamming
- If the child is learning to speak at a much slower rate than other children of the same age or stops uttering any sounds.
- Another possible indication is when the child’s babbling is the same (without any variation in tone)
- When a young child produces a limited variety of sounds than his or her peers.
Useful tips for parents and teachers of children with hearing loss
- Parents should speak as clearly as possible, maintain eye contact with their child when speaking, and teach their child to always look at the person talking to them. If the child does not understand everything they say, they should repeat what they said using different words.
- Even at a very young age, children should be encouraged to ask if there is anything they have not understood correctly.
- Parents should make sure that background noise is kept to a minimum when speaking to their child.
- If parents read picture books to young children, they should bring the pictures to life with sounds as well as reading the text provided (e.g., imitating animal noises). This will enable children to imitate sounds and learn from an early stage how to participate verbally in communal reading.
- Consult with the audiologist as soon as you see any signs of hearing loss.
BLOEMFONTEIN STATION MEDICAL CENTRE
SPEECH THERAPY AND AUDIOLOGY
051 44 99 0 44