Children's Hearing and Vision Affects Learning and Development
It’s common for children to have problems with hearing and vision. Most children who suffer from moderate, temporary problems may not receive a formal diagnosis. More and more studies indicate that mild loss in hearing or vision may significantly play a role in a child’s learning and development.
There was a recent study conducted by pediatric audiologists examined the pervasiveness and impact coexisting, common, mild hearing and visual problems on the academic achievement of children who went to mainstream schools. A sample was taken from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which is a broad population-based birth group in England. Children were identified as having hearing and visual difficulties by the age of 7. Data on their achievements in standardized nationwide exams at age 10 to evaluate outcomes in education was used.
The study found that coexisting hearing and vision complications during childhood have a long-lasting negative impact on a child’s educational outcomes. This is higher than the singular effects if hearing or visual problems individually. This study highlights the importance of early detection and early intervention.
Issues with Hearing
A prevalent cause of hearing issues in children is persistent otitis media with effusion (OME, “glue ear”). This is when fluid becomes trapped inside the ear. The problem with this condition is that it cannot be seen from the surface and there aren’t any evident symptoms. When fluid builds up in the middle ear, the ossicles - three tiny ear bones - cannot vibrate, thus it cannot transfer sounds from the outer ear to the inner ear. Hearing loss, the ability to read, and cognition are affected as a result.
In a study on 2,909 children, 261 (9%) children who suffered from mild to moderate conductive hearing loss and/or OME were identified. There was a weak link between mild hearing difficulties for those 7 years of age, and poorer academic achievement in national standardized tests at ages 10 and 16.
Issues with Vision
A decrease in a child’s sense of vision has been linked to poor literacy, but the influence of more prevalent visual problems on education is not clearly defined. Two of the most common types of visual issues that children face are amblyopia and strabismus. They each occur in relation to other conditions, which may affect a child’s development and academic achievements, for example low birthweight and prematurity.
In a study of 189 (6.5%) children who had mild visual problems, they were found to have no negative relationship between mild visual problems and academic achievement between the ages of 10 or 16.
It’s been widely recognized that the combination of auditory and visual data establishes most cognitive processes. This incorporates speech perception, and is fundamental to developing language and communication skills. Having problems with hearing or vision can negatively affect a child’s literacy progress and make them susceptible to an accumulation of difficulties with their senses.
From the study, 14 (0.5%) of the children who had hearing and visual impairments, there was a clear negative link between coexisting hearing and visual problems related to academic achievement for children who were 10-years-old. It was more than the burden of hearing problems itself. There was also a weak link between coexisting hearing and visual problems associated with academic achievement for 16-year-olds.
Clinical and Research Conclusions
Children who are known to have hearing and visual struggles need to be screened on a regular basis to check for other sensory impairments. This will allow for early detection and proper treatment.
This is the first study to examine the impact of coexisting common and mild hearing and visual difficulties associated with academic achievement. The study is limited due to missing statistics, and incorporate underrepresented children from ethnic minorities and low socio-economic backgrounds. Additional research is needed to explain more details about the negative link between coexisting common hearing and visual problems and educational outcomes.
If you have a child, or grandchild, who has difficulty with hearing, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation.