It's all in the ears
Last week D had a cold. Nothing to worry about, but when he said that his ears were popping I became a bit nervous. I asked the pharmacist if he could have an ear infection. She said that at age 13 and without any other symptoms this would be highly unlikely. Do you think now I am an overprotective mum. Maybe maybe not.
D is dyslexic. This is not about flipping letters although it is seen a lot in dyslexics. Most dyslexics have problems with phonological awareness. They don't hear the sounds of letters in a word and therefore they can't blend them together to read a word. The brain compensates for this by using its right site.
D was 9 when I enrolled him for the Gillon Phonological Awareness Training Programme at the University of Canterbury. After 18 hours of training he improved a whole year in reading. During this training he had 2 hearing tests. On both occasions he had an ear infection with no obvious symptoms at all. I than realised that the same had happened during random hearing tests at school. Later when I met Prof Gillon at the Dyspraxia Support Group, she confirmed that there was a correlation between ear infections and dyslexia.
Rosemary Boon, a psychologist at an early intervention centre wrote that one of the symptoms of an immune system that doesn't work optimally are frequent ear infections. Frequent ear infections are a major cause of Central Auditory Processing disorder (CAPD). She mentioned that 80% of the children tested in their centre didn't hear with enough sensitivity to learn accurately. This cannot be detected by conventional hearing tests because they test only a small range of the hearing scale.
When children have an ear infection, hearing acuity is reduced for up to six to eight weeks after the acute stage of the infection has passed. Dr Tomatis mentioned that when there are frequent ear infections, the little muscles attached to the eardrum get weak. Sound coming in get distorted. Accordingly these mumbled sounds enter the cochlea. Sounds with nearly the same base frequency like D and P, and T and D are difficult to analyse and an auditory processing delay occurs. One of the functions of the vestibular system which is also inside the inner ear is to lead the eye from letter to letter and CAPD can lead to eye tracking problems.
I think auditory processing delay results in sensory integrative dysfunction. If you want to learn about Sensory integration read this. Very simplified you can say when the input isn't right the output isn't right.
To conclude I think that glue ear and ear infections can play a significant role in acquiring learning disabilities. Many will say yeh but that is not scientifically proven. But to quote Edward de Bono "science is based on possibilities not on critical thinking". The good thing however is that people with learning disabilities can develop skills which are more difficult for others. The most important thing is increased awareness so that these people don't get lost.
Hope you hear this, marja