Language development is based, in large part, on well-developed listening. Children learn language by imitating the people who are talking to them. It’s listening to language throughout a child’s day that allows children to develop the sounds, vocabulary, and sentence structure that is so important in communicating their needs and in understanding the world around them.
But of course, language needs to be meaningful. When children have middle ear infections, their hearing often fluctuates, so that new words and concepts are heard inconsistently or may be missed altogether. This reduces the redundancies inherent in our language structure and so vitally important in developing a solid understanding of what is being said or read.
The LITERACY CONNECTION
A solid understanding of speech sounds, word knowledge, and basic concepts (such as size, number, and direction) are important for academic growth. Classrooms are noisy environments. Listening in noise is a challenge for all of us, but children with a history of fluctuating hearing loss often have increased difficulty understanding speech in the presence of noise. In part, this is because they lack foundational skills in listening and the ability to efficiently localize the speech source. This would have allowed them to filter out extraneous and less important information. Remember the mention of auditory memory in a previous post? When we read, the auditory centers of the brain are activated. Reading comprehension is dependent on holding onto information in memory long enough to understand the concepts and appropriately respond to what was read. When children lack fluency in sound acquisition, vocabulary, and an understanding of basic concepts, they expend additional cognitive resources to make sense of their world. The primary message gets lost or forgotten. They are working much harder than we are and often much harder than their peers.
The good news is…WE CAN CHANGE THE WAY THE AUDITORY CENTERS OF THE BRAIN MAKE CONNECTIONS.
Check back next month to learn more about what you can do to help your child develop effective auditory skills.