Australian Study Shows How Hearing Loss Impacts School Attendance

The ability to hear correctly is a critical component of speech and language development, communication, and learning. Delays in the development of speech and language lead to learning problems and poor academic performance. Inattention and poor behavior accompany poor academic performance frequently. Now, there may be another concern associated with hearing and academic achievement. A recent study is showing that preventable hearing impairments are impacting school attendance.

Hearing and School Attendance Study

The study involves aboriginal children in the Northern Territory of Australia. The research team is looking at the association between hearing loss and first-year attendance of children within this population group. The team is discovering that kids in this group with any level of hearing impairment are missing school more than their fellow students with normal hearing.
36.3% of the children have bilateral hearing loss, and 55.1% have unilateral or bilateral hearing loss. Otitis media is the leading cause of hearing loss for these children, which is hard for teachers to detect in children. The average school attendance rates in the region are dropping, leading to poor educational outcomes and life prospects.
The researchers are proposing surveillance of the hearing ability of all Aboriginal children who live in the remote communities of Australia. The study researchers believe early intervention is key to addressing this growing concern.

A Concern For All Children

The study is concerning for all school children who have a hearing loss. A good education is essential for giving any child the best opportunities in their adult life. A child gets one shot at school, and poor attendance can jeopardize their future. Children with hearing loss have many obstacles to overcome. Poor school attendance will compound these problems and make their lives more challenging.
Poor attendance at school for a child with hearing loss is detrimental in several ways. The child will struggle to keep up with their schoolwork and it is often hard for schools to find extra resources to help the child get caught up. The child misses out on the social aspects of school as well. Poor school attendance hampers a child’s ability to make and keep friendships. Children with poor school attendance have difficulty securing jobs when they are adults.

Hearing Evaluation

Undetected hearing loss in a child leads to speech and language problems, social and emotional development delays, and reduced success rates in school. Early identification of hearing loss in children gives them a higher chance of developing normal speech and language and learning skills.
If your child receives a referral at a school hearing screening, it is vital that you schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional. Evaluation is critical especially if your child:

  • Does not understand words and is unable to talk at the appropriate stage
  • Has frequent ear infections
  • Does not normally respond to sounds
  • Has poor educational outcomes

A hearing healthcare professional can diagnose and treat your child’s hearing loss to help the child succeed in school and life.


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