Childhood can be a magical time of learning and growing, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Think back to being a child. Playing with friends, going to school, all the things that you did. The feelings you felt. Now imagine for a minute that you had hearing loss as a child. How would that have changed things?
As more is understood about hearing loss in children and how it affects development, the more we all see how very complicated that early hearing loss can be and just how profound its effect on kids and families. Recent findings again show us, there’s more to it than just what we hear.
Kids and hearing loss
Statistics indicate that one to two in every 1000 babies have hearing loss, and almost 15% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 have hearing loss in one or both ears. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss in kids to a range of concerns, including delays in language and speech development and social development as well as a negative impact on academic success.
The newest research coming out has experts asking if the unseen effects of hearing loss in kids could be even greater and further-reaching than we ever imagined.
Hearing loss and behavior
A new study out of New Zealand hints at a significant link between untreated hearing loss and specific concerning behaviors in kids. The study included approximately one thousand Pacific 11-year-olds living in New Zealand. The kids’ hearing was tested in school, and they were asked to complete questionnaires. Parents were also questioned on topics such as their child’s behavior, their parenting style, and similar information.
After controlling for several factors, the researchers concluded there was reason to believe untreated hearing loss played a role in negative behavior.
“This finding provides evidence of the significant effect that hearing loss has on child behaviour. This association between hearing loss and moderate delinquency requires ethnic-specific interventions that are targeted for maximum benefit at appropriate times in childhood to mitigate potentially long-term health, educational, and behavioural risks,” the findings stated.
Whether the link is related to frustration, self-esteem, or something else is unclear, but experts agree that a multi-faceted approach is a must with these kids and their families.
What this means
These most recent findings underscore the importance of treating not only the physical hearing loss as early as possible, but also the mental and emotional effects of hearing loss which can include anxiety, social isolation, and even depression. To do this, hearing health care experts recommend early and regular hearing evaluations, following treatment recommendations and family involvement, and support. In many cases, experts also recommend families with children affected by hearing loss find support from trained professionals or organizations specializing in kids’ hearing loss for the best possible outcomes.
If you have kids in your life, one of the most important things you can do for them is to schedule regular hearing evaluations to detect and treat hearing loss as soon as possible.
If you believe your child has a hearing loss, contact our office to learn more about the next steps you can take to diagnose and treat it.