Dear Jacqui, My child is now 12 years old. He had ear infections and both his ear drums burst when he was 5 years old. He had some speech and language therapy until he was 9 years old and is currently having his ear drums repaired. He says he is struggling to understand words, and do his homework which is frustrating and upsetting him. Can you help, please?

This is a common scenario as ear infections/glue ear, burst ear drums, and hearing problems, have a significant impact on auditory analysis for learning and processing speech, language, literacy and communication skills. All these skills continue to develop throughout the child’s life into adulthood; the higher level language skills at a secondary school level are needed for critical thinking, essay writing across subjects, emotional and social development with peers. Your son appears to have coped with his underlying difficulties for a few years, but now the higher demands of language across the curriculum, listening in background noise, and subtle social cues in teen conversation, appear a challenge and affecting his confidence. I would recommend an assessment for his language and verbal reasoning skills, auditory processing skills (listening related to early ear infections), and a screening for his written skills (for aspects of dyslexia). I would also recommend an auditory processing assessment at Great Ormond Street Hospital due to the burst ear drums which can be done on the basis of my report. We can then devise a therapy plan and strategies for school.