Are Hearing Loss & Learning Disabilities in Adults Linked?

The ability to hear plays an important part throughout our life. Hearing allows us to recognize alerts, voices, imitate sounds, orientate ourselves in our surroundings, and develop social skills. It also plays an important role in the learning process.

For people with learning disabilities (PWLD), untreated hearing loss can make learning even more difficult. Alarmingly, a study published in the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants (BMJ) found that people with learning disabilities are more likely to suffer from a hearing loss that often goes undiagnosed. So are hearing loss and learning disabilities in adults linked?

The Study

According to the study, “People with learning disabilities are more likely to have a hearing loss than the general population, but are less likely to have their hearing problem diagnosed or managed. Difficulties in access, misconceptions around assessment and a lack of aftercare are all factors in this.”

The study highlighted that in the UK, at least 40% of PWLD suffer from a hearing loss. Despite this prevalence, only a small proportion get treatment.

The Challenges

One of the challenges faced is that a hearing assessment tends to come after a self-referral. For PWLD, this presents the first hurdle to overcome; many may not be aware that they have a hearing loss or may lack the ability to communicate their hearing loss to others.

The BMJ outlined: “The most shocking part of the BMJ’s findings was that most of the people who had hearing loss had never been tested.”

The consequences of untreated, undiagnosed hearing loss can be far-reaching. Reduced quality of life and an increased risk of accidents are just a few ways that hearing loss can hurt you.

The Solution

Recognizing potential symptoms of hearing loss in PWLD is the first step towards offering treatment options. The BMJ study noted that:

“Whenever possible, tests involved language are useful as they give some idea of how patients manage within their environment. Performance tests, which require only minimal language skills, entail the use of speech stimuli and pure tones from a free field or warble tone audiometer. Most people who reach this state will then be able to proceed to audiometry. Ideally, a team skilled in both audiology and learning disabilities should give these tests.”

Most importantly, the study found that many PWLD with a hearing loss would benefit from the use of a hearing aid.

If you suspect that a loved one is suffering with a hearing loss, please don’t delay booking in a hearing assessment. It is a quick and painless procedure, and the benefits to treating hearing loss are well documented. Call Anderson Audiology today at 702-997-2964 and arrange an appointment at your convenience. Or if you’d prefer, click here to request an appointment online.

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