For many students, the end of summer is bittersweet. Gone are the days of lounging at the beach, time spent at sleepaway camp, and evening barbecues as the seasons change and students exchange their swimsuits and towels for backpacks full of school books.
While the start of school can be fun and exciting as students are reunited with classmates and teammates, some students can feel quite apprehensive about the return to the classroom. For students with hearing loss, the thought of going back to school can be nerve-wracking. Instead of being engaged and attentive during class, students with hearing loss can feel isolated and can frequently struggle to keep up with others in the classroom.
Hearing Well And Academic Success
When it comes to academic success, a student’s ability to hear can have a huge impact on their performance. Hearing is one of the most important senses involved in speech and language acquisition and development in humans. With even minor hearing loss, children can experience language development delays which can have a huge impact on school performance.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that hearing loss in children is often accompanied by inattentiveness or disengagement in the classroom. Thus, many students with undiagnosed are often misdiagnosed as having learning differences such as ADD and ADHD. When this happens, students do not receive the appropriate support and resources they need to excel.
Hearing loss in children might not seem like a pressing issue, but according to the CDC, 14.9% of children ages 6-19 experience hearing loss of at least 16 dB in one or both ears. When one considers that hearing loss in just one ear can have a huge impact on academic success, then it’s easy to see that hearing loss in children is a serious concern.
In fact, anywhere from 25-35% of students with hearing loss in just one ear find themselves at risk of failing at least one grade level. Plus, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), students with untreated mild to moderate hearing loss are very likely to be anywhere from one to four grade levels behind their peers. Students with untreated severe hearing loss are even worse off – they usually cannot progress past the third grade. Those are numbers worth paying attention to.
Why Hearing Matters In The Classroom
It’s important to note, however, that the education gap between children without hearing loss and children with untreated hearing loss has nothing to do with academic potential or intelligence. Rather, it’s a matter of students with hearing loss not having the proper support or resources they need to succeed.
A teacher who speaks quickly directs their voice to the blackboard instead of toward the class, who uses lots of sarcasm or idioms, or who makes verbal changes to assignments and tasks can create a very difficult and stressful learning environment for a student with hearing loss.
Students who have hearing loss and try to learn in these environments often find that they miss important aspects of a lesson and make mistakes on assignments because they didn’t fully understand what a teacher was trying to say. This could create immense amounts of frustration and confusion for a student and ultimately result in poor academic performance.
Identifying and Helping Students With Hearing Loss
Students with hearing loss can certainly have a bright academic future with the right support. Research indicates that early intervention and treatment for a student with hearing loss can make a world of difference. With the proper support, these students can keep up with peers academically and can also have healthy and vibrant social lives.
What’s important here is that parents and educators can begin to recognize when a student may be struggling due to untreated hearing loss and that they can identify students who ought to see a hearing healthcare professional. Educators and parents of students with hearing loss can also work together to discuss what strategies and techniques might best serve a child’s particular needs so that they can excel in the classroom and have the educational experiences they deserve.