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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Overcoming children's hearing loss in Western Australian children


The Aboriginal Education Directorate at the Western Australian Department of Education and Training provides educators with a professional learning program and support materials to develop educators' awareness and understanding of the issues related to Conductive Hearing Loss.


Conductive Hearing Loss, due to various forms of Otitis Media, more commonly known as middle ear infection, glue ear and runny ear, affects up to 80% of Aboriginal children in a classroom on any given day in Western Australia.

Aboriginal children are one of a number of populations showing greater vulnerability to this condition. Prevalence rates among Maori and South-East Asian children, and children with particular disabilities (e.g. Down Syndrome, cleft palate), are also elevated. For European children the rates are in the order of 25% on any one day.

The Aboriginal Education, Training and Services Directorate at the Western Australian Department of Education and Training provides educators with a professional learning program and support materials to develop educators' awareness and understanding of the issues related to Conductive Hearing Loss.


The impact of the disease

Otitis Media is one of the major health problems faced by young children. It may affect infants from a few days old through to their teenage years, and sometimes beyond. Research has shown that as many as 75% of all children in Australia will have at least one episode of Otitis Media by the time they are three years of age.

Otitis Media results in reduced hearing, which may persist for a period of a few days, or for as long as several months, from one episode of the disease. In chronic cases hearing may never return to normal. It is generally recognised that episodes of hearing loss may lead to some or all of the following:

  • Speech and hearing delays
  • Educational problems, which frequently continue to impact in secondary school
  • Behavioural, emotional and social problems
  • Permanent hearing loss.

Addressing the problem

The Department of Education and Training in WA has produced the Do You Hear What I Hear? CD-ROM and support materials to develop an awareness and better understanding of the issues related to all children experiencing Conductive Hearing Loss. These resources

  • present a whole-school approach to the effective management of Otitis Media
  • provide information about the causes, signs and symptoms of Otitis Media
  • describe the impact of Conductive Hearing Loss on cognitive, behavioural and social-emotional development
  • identify a range of classroom management strategies that support curriculum access for children experiencing Conductive Hearing Loss
  • provide a wide range of activities for improving students' oral language and literacy behaviours and skills.
All educators are encouraged to take the time to familiarise themselves with these materials, and to incorporate the information into planning and daily teaching practice to ensure that the needs of students experiencing Conductive Hearing Loss are met. To facilitate this, professional learning related to Otitis Media/Conductive Hearing Loss is available in all districts across Western Australia.

It is critical that schools, parents/caregivers, health workers, medical personnel, speech pathologists, audiologists and other community groups all work together to promote an awareness of Conductive Hearing Loss/Otitis Media and its effect on children's social-emotional, behavioural and educational development.

For further information about the support materials and professional learning program, please contact Grania McCudden grania.mccudden@det.wa.edu.au, or visit the website of the Aboriginal Education, Training and Services Directorate.
KLA

Subject Headings

Aboriginal peoples
Aboriginal students
Children
Communication
Education management
Education policy
Health education
Mäori
Socially disadvantaged
Western Australia (WA)