[on hearing loss]

What is listening fatigue?

July 30, 2020

Listening fatigue is a form of mental exhaustion that occurs in people who have hearing loss. Even when those with hearing loss wear the right hearing technology, they may still experience some form of listening fatigue, but it’s likely to impact them less. Hearing technology decreases listening fatigue as it helps improve listening and speech comprehension.

“Towards the end of a school day, children with hearing loss may be ‘physically and mentally spent’ as a result of focusing so intently on a teacher’s speech, as well as conversations with other students.”- ASHA

If a child has an undetected hearing loss, they are likely to be struggling with listening fatigue as they have not been provided with the right tools to support their hearing loss.

They will become mentally exhausted because their brains must work harder to fill in the missing sounds. Particularly when the child is at school and there is more emphasis on instruction and speaking, rather than hands-on demonstration.

In the evening, after a long day of listening, children with hearing loss may be more likely to have tantrums and display uncharacteristic behaviour, such as moodiness and grumpiness, especially in comparison to their peers or siblings.

What can you do about it?

  1. If you suspect your child has a hearing loss and they are demonstrating signs of listening fatigue, it’s important to test their hearing so that you can rule out any hearing difficulties, or you can provide them with the appropriate hearing support if a hearing issue is identified. To screen your child’s hearing from the comfort of your own home, you can download the Sound Scouts app here.

  2. If your child has a diagnosed hearing loss and has been fitted with the right technology, try the following steps to help alleviate listening fatigue:

  • Let them relax. Don’t make your child immediately start doing homework or chores when they get home, as they often need time to wind down. Let your child unplug for a bit, and then you can move onto things like homework and chatting about their day.
  • Give them a nice healthy snack. All that energy burnt on learning and listening means your child might need an energy boost.
  • If you can, try to make your house quieter for your child when they first get home to make things a little easier. You can also make drive time quieter too by turning off the radio.
  • Ensure the teacher and school know about your child’s hearing loss so that they can provide the right support for your child.
  • Ensure your child is fitted with the right technology. A hearing aid or FM system makes a huge difference in a child’s ability to listen, concentrate, and learn, and can relieve listening fatigue.

Remember, your child may not be behaving badly because they have a bad attitude or they are upset at you. They may be exhausted from the long day of listening and learning. The correct hearing technology can make a huge difference in your child’s ability to listen and will reduce the impacts of listening fatigue.

Do you have any helpful tips for a child experiencing listening fatigue? Let us know on our socials!

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Sound Scouts is now FREE for Australian school children thanks to Hearing Australia and funding from the Australian Government. Support available on 1300 424 122