Is Your Child Struggling in School? Hearing Tests May Provide Answers

Many parents become concerned when their child begins to struggle in school. Falling grades, difficulty focusing, and behavioural issues may all be signs that a child is having trouble learning. While there are many potential causes for academic struggles, one overlooked factor is hearing impairment. Even mild hearing loss can significantly impact a child’s ability to learn and succeed in the classroom, having hearing tests early enough can detect and help your child.

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Learning

Our ability to hear plays a critical role in learning. Hearing allows us to understand speech and language, which is the foundation for reading, writing, and verbal communication. Children spend most of their day listening and learning auditorily. A hearing impairment makes it challenging for a child to:

  • Hear the teacher clearly, especially when there is background noise in the classroom
  • Discriminate subtle differences between speech sounds
  • Understand rapid or degraded speech
  • Follow oral instructions
  • Learn phonics and sound out new words

When a child cannot hear properly, it directly impacts their comprehension and ability to fully participate in lessons. Hearing loss leads to gaps in language development, literacy skills, and overall academic performance.

Signs of Possible Hearing Loss

How can you tell if your child may have an undiagnosed hearing problem? Here are some common signs:

  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Often says “Huh? What?” or needs directions repeated
  • Turns the TV volume up loud
  • Poor performance in phonics or reading
  • Speech and language delays
  • Doesn’t always respond when called from another room
  • Easily distracted or has a short attention span
  • Poor grades and test scores
  • Avoids social situations or is socially immature
  • Behaviour problems in the classroom

If you notice one or more of these issues, it is important to have your child’s hearing evaluated. Even a mild 20-30 decibel hearing loss can significantly hinder learning.

Getting Your Child’s Hearing Tested

Here are steps for getting your child’s hearing tested:

  • See your GP – Make an appointment to share your concerns about hearing difficulties. The doctor can look for signs of ear infections, wax buildup, or structural abnormalities. They may refer you to an audiologist for a full hearing evaluation.
  • Get a full audiological exam – This will check hearing sensitivity across pitches and volumes. The audiologist will look for possible hearing loss, auditory processing problems, or other issues. Different hearing tests are done based on the child’s age.
  • Consider a central auditory processing evaluation – This assesses how the brain processes auditory information. Problems with auditory processing can cause many learning struggles.
  • Address any hearing problems – If hearing loss or auditory issues are found, treatment options include medication, surgery, amplification devices (hearing aids or FM systems), therapy, classroom accommodations, communication strategies, or special education services.

You can read more about hearing tests and hearing aids here.

Ongoing Hearing Checks are Crucial

Childhood hearing loss often develops gradually over time. Ear infections, noise exposure, head trauma, and genetic factors can all impact hearing. Annual hearing tests ensure any changes are caught early. Keep a close eye on your child’s hearing health and don’t hesitate to request a hearing test if you have any concerns. Unidentified hearing loss will continue to affect your child’s learning and performance. But the right accommodations and interventions can set your child up for academic success.