‘Hearing loss can affect child’s academic growth if neglected’

The problem might lead to other abnormal psychosocial behaviours, says AIISH expert on the occasion of World Hearing Day

A simple ear infection during childhood would hinder the development of the auditory nervous system. It has been often observed that ear pain or ear infection is taken very lightly. School-going children, even with milder degree of hearing loss, tend to miss out on a lot of information in the class, leading to poorer scholastic performance, said Animesh Barman, Professor of Audiology, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru.

On the occasion of World Hearing Day, which was observed on March 3 with the theme “Hearing Care for All”, he warned that lack of auditory development due to long standing ear infection can affect their ability to understand complex speech, especially when there are multiple talkers or noise in the environment. This will further worsen their academic performance.

“The problem is rarely understood or realised by parents and there is a tendency to punish the child and exert additional pressure on the child, leading to further deterioration of academic achievement, which might lead to other abnormal psychosocial behaviours,” Dr Barman said, while explaining the myths and facts of hearing, in a note.

Hearing loss since birth or childhood would deprive the children of normal development of speech and language. In addition, there could be a tendency to enter into a world of sign language, restricting their interaction with peer group and limiting their social participation, he explained.

Adults or older adults often have hearing loss, which progresses slowly. The severity of hearing loss goes unnoticed until it reaches a level affecting their communication significantly, according to Dr. Barman.

“There is always a tendency to pass the buck to the communication partner without really realising that there is absolutely no problem with their speech. The difficulty in hearing would slowly deter them from communicating with others, eventually isolating themselves. This might lead to depression, frustration, irritability etc,” he warned.

He observed that hearing and its impact on communication and psychosocial development is less understood by the general public. This is mainly due to lack of awareness about the importance of hearing and its impact. There is also lack of information about whom to contact and where these facilities are available. Many people, especially from rural areas, though aware of the importance of hearing and the professionals to be consulted, are still reluctant to utilise the facilities.

Those who do visit the different service centres or clinics for correction of hearing sensitivity, withdraw from the corrective procedures. There are only a handful of people who really understand the significance of hearing, do not have prejudiced beliefs and effectively use the facilities available, he added.

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