The Dragonfly Story

Pathway for School Intervention

Conductive hearing loss / otitis media has a number of effects on children in the classroom. These effects are not limited to times when the child has a hearing loss, but may cause difficulties in learning even when hearing is normal. In particular, children with a history of conductive hearing loss are likely to have difficulties in analysing the sound structure of words and sentences, and this can lead to reading and spelling problems. Dealing with these difficulties requires a specific focus at the whole school level and in individual classrooms. Early intervention is important so teaching staff need to be sensitive to the occurrence of conductive hearing loss / otitis media in children in their classrooms. Following the pathways suggested below will help you to identify these children, and to plan your broad course of action.

In the school

Schools with a high proportion of children with conductive hearing loss / otitis media will need a whole school plan to meet the needs of these children. This plan will begin by developing children’s understanding of sounds within words, oral language skills and providing exposure to written texts. It will then move through development of more complex oral language skills to developing and refining skills in written language. 

In the classroom

While the full impact of recurrent hearing loss is still unknown, it is suggested that early intervention will:

  • significantly reduce the possibility of speech and literacy problems experienced later;
  • provide children with a greater skills base to develop coping strategies;
  • prevent children identifying themselves as poor learners; 
  • enhance children’s learning strategies; and
  • enhance self-esteem.

Early intervention to address the needs of individual children with conductive hearing loss / otitis media is crucial. Remember, there are two main factors which affect these children. They are:

  1. the cumulative effect of inaccurately heard and remembered sounds and words. This can make it difficult for children to fully understand the language that is used in the classroom, to use language proficiently themselves, and to develop efficient strategies for reading and spelling.
  2. the child’s hearing acuity on the day. Conductive hearing loss is a fluctuating loss, which means that children’s ability to cope with the listening demands of the classroom may vary from day to day.