Since I began teaching, I have always had children in my class who had hearing problems or were classified as deaf. In main stream education, the deaf children have all used hearing aids and had specialist speech and language provision on at least a half termly basis if not more. But for those children who suffer from ear, nose and throat infections, glue ear or just “lack of hearing” within a normal classroom there is very little provided except the normal to be sitting near to the teacher at the front of the class.
Loss of hearing can badly affect a child’s ability to learn – just think how much auditory information is passed about a classroom each day!
If a child suffers hearing loss then they will experience problems with vocabulary as it will develop much slower and a gap will be created between them and their peers that without intervention will widen each year. They will not understand abstract words (those words we cannot put a visual to) or those words with multiple meanings. Often they will talk in much shorter and simpler sentences and struggle to hear the endings of words so that they have major problems using phonics to help them spell words and even more problematic misunderstand or misuse verb tenses, plurals and possessives when speaking and writing. If they cannot hear correctly this may cause their own pronunciation problems and lead their own speech being difficult for others to understand so isolating them from their peers and leading to frustration when trying to communicate within class.
All of this means it is vitally important for parents to discuss possible hearing loss and catch up/intervention programs as soon as possible with teachers rather than wait and to be more forceful with those doctors who allow children to just drift along stringing medical appointments out months apart without realising the amount of work within the class that children are not able to understand and are significantly missing out on.
I am introducing a whole class speech and language program aimed at the early years to screen and implement extra provision for those children who need this and for some it will be due to hearing problems. Ensuring that children catch up with their peers and are successful in overcoming medical problems is essential for the best possible start to their education. I am hoping this will show the extent to the problems we have in school over speech and communication as well as provide methods for closing the gap.
Hard work and happiness are linked I feel when you work in special needs as everything takes longer and is harder to break in to small steps, diagnose the problems and then try to solve them. As I have stated before, the vast majority of the children with special needs work and try so hard it is truly awesome to be in the same environment as them. This also means that their triumphs lead to blissful happiness. Shiny eyed teachers recounting their SEN children’s breakthrough moments to me is wonderful to behold. Is it any wonder that parents tend to shed tears at our review meetings due to the immense pride they can feel about their child’s attitude and perseverance in trying to overcome their learning differences? Happiness drives us through the hard times.
Let me know your thoughts and feelings please and as always share your insights to help others and myself improve as teachers to these special children.
TpT provides loads of specialist speech therapy freebies which I use at school so a big thank you to those professionals who share their expertise so freely.
Please check these wonderful individuals out:
To have children focus their hearing and processing skills on individual sounds in words I devised a phonics card for 3 and 4 phonic sounds in words – check it out at: