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How ear malformations can affect the learning curve

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Anatomy of the ear

As many parents of children suffering from hearing loss already knew, even what appears to be a smaller developmental challenge can pose some serious risks to the meeting of a child’s learning needs. In a recent article on Medical Xpress, informative light was shed upon the details of educational set backs for children with ear damage and deformities. It has been stated that children born with certain ear malformations are far more likely to struggle in school than their peers.

The article widely focuses on the condition Aural Atresia, which is the absence of the external canal of the ear. Because this ear condition, like many others, is generally only seen affecting one of the child’s two ears, it wasn’t considered to be a cause for delays in speech and other areas of early education. Actually, according to one of the study’s co-authors Dr. Judith E.C. Lieu, until the 90’s, any condition that only affected one ear wasn’t even considered to be a serious disability, as the sufferer still had “one good ear.”

This brings up an important- and often overlooked- point. Hearing loss, no matter how severe, is a type of disability. It affects the sufferer’s lifestyle, and can greatly compromise the learning potential of many otherwise brilliant children; and any overlooking on a school’s behalf can be extremely frustrating to the child, their parents, and caring teachers who try their best to ensure all the needs of their children are met.

Dr. Lieu, the study’s co-author refers to the condition as an “invisible impairment,” and states that because the child appears to be functioning normally, many educators forget that the impairment exists. Children suffering from this nature of ear damage can be left to fall through the cracks if an unknowing teacher assumes they are a “problem child” due to an inability to pay attention in class, or stop talking when told; when in reality, the child simply didn’t hear the teacher’s instructions.

This article not only gives support to parents and children suffering from these conditions, it reminds us to take a closer look when school performance problems are occurring. As for Lieu, she is bound and determined to prove that with the proper attention and care, children with seemingly invisible impairments due to ear damage and hearing loss can excel at the same rates as their peers with function in both ears.

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