Per the website, www.howtolearn.com,the University of Sydney, has found that persistent middle ear infections in young children can have a detrimental impact on their language and literacy skills.
The author of the study, Dr. Heather Winskel, states that middle ear infection or otitis media (OM) is the most common childhood illness. Per Dr. Winskel–“The peak incidence of OM occurs when children are between 6 and 18 months, which is the most critical period of language development, when the infant is tuning in to the speech sounds that characterize their native language. This process allows young children to break into the stream of speech and eventually map sound onto meaning. Fluctuating hearing loss due to OM during the early years of life presents the child with an intermittent speech signal that is difficult to process.”
The Doctor adds, “There was a general tendency for children with a history of OM to achieve lower scores on phonological awareness skills of alliteration, rhyme and non-word reading, semantic skills of expressive vocabulary and word definitions and reading compared to non-OM children. Extensive research has indicated that phonological awareness is a necessary skill children need to begin reading.”
Clearly, chronic ear aches require medical attention and resolution!