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Early Intervention Impacts on Children's Development

I will never forget the first time that my gorgeous son Josh heard me tell him that I love him. We were sitting in the recovery ward at the Wesley hospital following surgery to address his deafness. I think he was more interested in when lunch was arriving than my emotional declarations of love!

What followed was many more firsts for Josh as he was constantly surprised and amazed at the sounds around him. Hearing the sound of running a stick along the pool fence, the toast popping out of a toaster, a kookaburra… There was also the magic of watching his vocabulary develop, much to the horror of his older sister who now had to share air time.

Research indicates that hearing difficulties may have a significant effect on a child’s ability to learn. Children with a hearing loss may experience speech and language delays, educational difficulties, behavioural problems and often require increased educational support.

To detect any hearing issues in our Year 4 students, the Department of Exceptional Learners organised for the University of Queensland Audiology Clinic to come out and screen the boys’ hearing. This screening program is designed to initially identify a child’s basic hearing sensitivity and middle ear status. The aim of the program is to detect those children who may have difficulty hearing in the classroom environment so that further action can be taken to make learning easier for that child.

Early intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s overall speech and language development and educational outcomes. Research has shown that early detection and intervention can influence a child’s speech sound development, expressive and receptive language development and even their literary skills such as reading comprehension.

Deborah Butler
Head of Exceptional Learners
butlerd@atc.qld.edu.au