Study sug­gests screen­ing chil­dren with read­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for hear­ing prob­lem

Par­ents of chil­dren hav­ing dif­fi­culty in learn­ing to read may want to con­sider screen­ing for hear­ing prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from sci­en­tists in the UK

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - City - - LIFESTYLE -

As­tudy from Coven­try Univer­sity found that 25% of chil­dren with read­ing dif­fi­cul­ties also had mild or mod­er­ate hear­ing im­pair­ment, of which par­ents and teach­ers were un­aware. The sci­en­tists stud­ied 195 chil­dren, aged eight to 10 years old, in­clud­ing 36 with dys­lexia and 29 with a his­tory of re­peated ear in­fec­tions. They used a se­ries of tests to eval­u­ate the chil­dren’s read­ing and writ­ing skills, as well as how they used the struc­tures of words based on their sounds and mean­ings, both in speech and in lit­er­acy. They found that nine out of the 36 dyslexic chil­dren had some form of hear­ing loss that was pre­vi­ously un­known to par­ents. Plus, around one-third of chil­dren who had re­peated ear in­fec­tions had prob­lems with read­ing a writ­ing. “Chil­dren who have suf­fered re­peated ear in­fec­tions and as­so­ci­ated hear­ing prob­lems have fluc­tu­at­ing ac­cess to dif­fer­ent speech sounds pre­cisely at the age when this in­for­ma­tion is cru­cial in the early stages of learn­ing to read,” ex­plains re­port au­thor Dr He­len Breadmore. How­ever, the two groups of chil­dren — with dys­lexia or with re­peated ear in­fec­tions — had dif­fer­ent types of lit­er­acy dif­fi­cul­ties. Chil­dren with dys­lexia had dif­fi­cul­ties in­volv­ing the abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late speech sounds (phonol­ogy) and the knowl­edge of gram­mat­i­cal word struc­ture, whereas those with re­peated ear in­fec­tions mainly had prob­lems with phonol­ogy re­lated tasks, in­di­cat­ing subtle dif­fi­cul­ties with the per­cep­tion of spo­ken lan­guage. As a re­sult, the au­thors sug­gest that teach­ers should be made aware if young­sters have a his­tory of re­peated ear in­fec­tions so that the pos­si­bil­ity of hear­ing loss can be con­sid­ered. The aca­demics point out that even mild to mod­er­ate hear­ing loss can hin­der learn­ing, par­tic­u­larly in a noisy class­room with lots of dis­trac­tions. Stan­dard hear­ing tests on newborns may, there­fore, not be suf­fi­cient to iden­tify prob­lems. “Later on­set deaf­ness can oc­cur at any age and GPs can ar­range for a child to have a hear­ing test at any age if a par­ent or teacher has con­cerns,” the au­thors con­clude.

Chil­dren who have suf­fered re­peated ear in­fec­tions and as­so­ci­ated hear­ing prob­lems have fluc­tu­at­ing ac­cess to dif­fer­ent speech sounds pre­cisely at the age when this in­for­ma­tion is cru­cial DR HE­LEN BREADMORE, RE­PORT AU­THOR

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Ac­cord­ing to the study, one­third of chil­dren who had re­peated ear in­fec­tions had prob­lems with read­ing and writ­ing

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