Is Impaired Hearing a Factor in Your Child’s Reading Struggles?

When was the last time your child’s hearing was tested? If the answer is never or not in the recent past, it may be time for an audiology exam, particularly if your child is struggling in school. New research from the U.K. found that one-fourth of students with reading difficulties had “mild to moderate” impaired hearing, unbeknownst to their teachers or parents.

As reported in The Telegraph, “In a study of 196 youngsters, a quarter of dyslexics had undiagnosed hearing problems, while one third of the children who had repeated ear infections had problems with reading and writing.”

According to the researchers, mild to moderate hearing impairments can prevent students from “being able to understand how sounds and language translate into words on a page.”

Even if your child’s hearing has been tested, the procedure may not have been adequate to pick up a problem. According to Dr. Helen Breadmore, author of the study that appeared in the journal Developmental Science, childrens’ hearing should be tested more thoroughly and more frequently.

A mild-moderate hearing loss will make the perception of speech sounds difficult, particularly in a classroom environment with background noise and other distractions. Therefore, 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.