Private Speech Pathologists Association of WA

pspawa-hearingIf a person is unable to hear sounds it affects their communication skills. The degree of impact can vary according to whether the hearing loss is from birth or acquired later in life and whether the hearing loss is mild, moderate or profound. The earlier the hearing loss is acquired and the more significant the loss, the greater the impact on language and/or speech development.


What causes a hearing difficulty?

Hearing problems may be permanent or fluctuating and due to a variety of causes, including:

  • Congenital hearing loss (from birth)
  • Hearing loss following illness (e.g. Meningitis)
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Recurrent “glue ear”
  • Noise induced hearing loss
  • Age related hearing loss in older people

Why do you need good hearing?

Babies need good hearing so they can imitate the sounds and words that are made by their carers. Middle ear problems in toddlers and preschoolers may cause some hearing loss and impact on the child’s development of speech and language skills. School age and tertiary students need good hearing to function well in the classroom or lecture theatre. Adults with poor hearing can suffer communication problems that may influence their relationships and ability to socialise with family and other members of the community.

Hearing tests for people of all ages are an easy, painless way of finding out the status of a person’s hearing.

What is the Speech Pathologist’s role in the management of hearing difficulties?

A Speech Pathologist will frequently ask families to arrange a hearing test to confirm the client’s hearing status. They will work together with an audiologist and a client’s family to assess the impact of a hearing loss on the individual’s learning and lifestyle. They are able to work together with Teachers of the Deaf and regular classroom teachers to recommend appropriate intervention for individual students. Some children and adolescents with speech/language difficulties also have an auditory processing disorder – see separate section titled Auditory Processing.