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Hearing and Auditory Fatigue
Posted by Tai Botkin on 11/29/2021
My children are avid athletes. It is not uncommon for them to be participating in multiple sports in simultaneous seasons. I’m often asked if they get tired, and the truth is, yes! There are muscle aches, soreness, and other physical side effects to their training. An athlete faces adverse physical reactions, voracious readers may experience weary eyes after a lengthy book, and prolonged auditory attention can result in listening or auditory fatigue .
We have all experienced listening fatigue, even though you may not have known it had a name. Symptoms of listening fatigue can include zoning out, daydreaming, feeling the need for a break or overall tiredness. As adults, it is easier to meet our individual needs but not so easy for students. As if listening fatigue weren’t difficult enough, imagine that you also have hearing loss. Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research at the National Deaf Children’s Society in the United Kingdom, explains what the listening process looks like for those with hearing loss, “It’s about the energy involved in lip-reading and being attentive all day long. Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context. And then thinking of something intelligent to say in response to an invariably random question. It’s like doing jigsaws, Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time.” (Listening Fatigue Within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community-Hear For You, 2020) The hearing process is quite complex and for our students with hearing loss it is not automatic.
“Recent research has shown that even the “simple” act of listening and understanding can be exhausting. Individuals with hearing loss must put forth more “listening effort” and cognitive resources to attend to auditory information.” (Davis, 2021) I have listed a few things that may be done to minimize auditory fatigue.
- Reduce background noise in the classroom and shut the door to dampen hallway sounds.
- Provide accommodations. These may include preferential seating, a copy of class notes, and using visuals within the classroom.
- Make sure the student is using their amplification. Do they wear personal amplification and is there additional technology such as a teacher-worn microphone that may help? Reach out to your Teacher for the Deaf for assistance with this.
- Use captioning in your classroom. There are many auto-generated captioning options available. You may find a list on my website.
- Review the child’s schedule. I have had some students ask to have all of their content classes in the morning, or have them split up so they get breaks in between.
If you wish to hear more about hearing fatigue from someone who experiences a moderate to severe hearing loss, I encourage you to check out the short video, What is Hearing Fatigue? from the youtube channel, Definite Hearing.
"Listening Fatigue Within The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Community - Hear For You". Hear For You, 2020, https://hearforyou.com.au/listening-fatigue-within-the-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-community/. Accessed 13 Sept 2021.
2021 Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss. Late March Update. Author: Hilary Davis, AuD
Youtube.Com, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZOT-Tb7RlM. Accessed 13 Sept 2021.
Welcome to: - Captioning . (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from
Tai Botkin, Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearning