By Melodie de Jager
When your frustration and decibel levels often escalate to shouting level, it may be time to have your child’s hearing tested. Hearing problems can lead to poor listening skills and therefore to reading and learning problems.
Then there is attitude. Attitude impacts on attention & concentration & listening, but the first step in improving listening is ruling out any physical reasons for poor listening skills.
Physical reasons maybe due to hearing loss, but it may also be due to poor sensory integration because the child’s vestibular system is immature. The vestibular system includes the blue tubes just before the blue snail-like structure in the picture below. The snail-like structure is the hearing apparatus called the cochlea and receives sound from the vestibular system.
When a child can sit up, not slouch or lie down, and still for an age-appropriate time the vestibular system might be mature enough to not disrupt auditory input. A quick check to determine if your child’s vestibular system is on par for age:
1 year old can concentrate for 1 minute on an activity
2 year old can concentrate for 2 minutes on an activity
3 year old can concentrate for 3 minute on an activity
4 year old can concentrate for 4 minute on an activity
5 year old can concentrate for 5 minute on an activity
6 year old can concentrate for 6+5 minute on an activity = 11 minutes
7 year old can concentrate for 7+5 minute on an activity = 12 minutes
8 year old can concentrate for 8+5 minute on an activity = 13 minutes
When a child can maintain their posture and concentration age appropriately, an immature vestibular system might be ruled out as a possible physical contributor to poor listening skills. Hearing loss may need to be considered before an ‘attitude adjustment’ is considered .
CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS is due to problems with sound being conducted from the outer ear to the cochlea. In children this is mostly due to middle ear infections or a build-up of fluid in the middle ear. Ear infections often clear up without causing any damage, but if it lasts a long time or are recurring, the middle ear might be damaged and hearing loss might occur. Conductive hearing loss can often be treated medically or surgically.
80% of all learning problems are due to recurring ear infections.
Dr Carla Hannaford
SENSORINEURAL HEARLING LOSS can be due to damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. When hair cells are damaged, they can no longer convert sound waves into electrical impulses. Without these impulses sound doesn’t reach the brain and the child won’t hear you. When the auditory nerve that carries electrical impulses from the ears to the brain are damaged then good quality sound is prevented from reaching the brain.
Damage to (1)hair cells or (2)the auditory nerve may need a form of hearing instrument or assistive listening device to compensate for the damage.
Maintain the “string of beads” posture throughout this exercise. Place the palm of the hand against the forehead, pushing firmly for a count of eight. Remember to breathe. Alternate the position to the back of head, the left and the right side of head, repeating the process first with one hand and then the other. This movement strengthens and relaxes the neck and shoulder muscles to isolate head movement from body movement, and in so doing inhibits the TLR. It also improves posture, listening skills, balance and muscle tone.
Starting in front of the ears, using both hands simultaneously, gently tap upwards around the ears. This movement promotes temporal lobe stimulation to improve listening skills, auditory perception, vestibular stimulation, proprioception and balance. It also promotes integration between listening and communicating both in verbal and written form.