Problems with hearing and vision frequently occur among children. The welcome news is that, for the most part, the issues are temporary. However, there is new evidence that indicates that mild deficiencies in hearing and vision can impact learning and development. How often hearing and visual problems occur together during childhood and how this affects educational outcomes remains a mystery.
Researchers examined the frequency and impact of mild co-occurring hearing and visual problems and their effects on the academic achievements of children attending public schools. The investigators located 7-year-old children with hearing and visual difficulties and utilized their data from national exams at age 10.
Otitis media (OME) is the most frequently occurring cause of hearing problems in childhood. Although there exists no clear evidence of its effects on academic achievement, there is a connection between OME and hearing loss, reading ability, and cognition. The researchers were able to establish a relationship between mild hearing impairment at age seven and poor academic scores at age 10 and 16.
Visual acuity problems during childhood can reduce literacy. Amblyopia and strabismus are common vision problems that occur in children. The researchers identified 189 children with mild visual problems, including strabismus, amblyopia, or reduced acuity. There was no negative association between mild visual difficulties and academic achievement at ages 10 or 16 after adjustments for any possible confounding factors.
The combination of auditory and visual information supports numerous cognitive activities, which may include speech perception, and it is essential to the development of language and communication skills. Hearing and vision problems can affect a child’s development of literacy. The researchers recognized 14 children with both hearing and visual difficulties and were able to develop a strong association between co-occurring hearing and visual problems with academic achievement at age 10.
The findings suggest that co-occurring hearing and visual problems during childhood impact educational outcomes to a higher degree than hearing or vision difficulties alone. This data indicates that early identification of children with co-occurring hearing and vision problems is essential for successful intervention.
The researchers believe that children with known visual or hearing difficulties must receive routine screening for additional impairments for early identification and intervention. This investigation is the earliest to examine the impact of co-occurring common and mild hearing and visual difficulties upon academic attainment.
Limitations of the study include missing data and a lack of representation of children who are ethnic minorities and lower socio-economic backgrounds. Replication of these results with more substantial and more representative datasets is in order. Continuing research should attempt to clarify the factors that are facilitating the negative association between co-occurring hearing and visual difficulties and educational outcomes.
Your child must receive a regular hearing and vision screening for their health and for their ability to learn. Early intervention is vital for success, so please get your child’s hearing and vision checked today!