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Vestibule Dysfunction: Why Poor Hearing Development Affects Your Child’s Vestibular, Balance, Speech and Language
This article provides helpful information about how your child’s vestibule cochlea could affect your child’s hearing, processing and auditory system for higher learning. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
Hearing is like a complicated game of telephone and when every part of the ear is not in sync, problems arise that can impact learning. Before knowing the exact consequences of the parts of the ear being out of sync, it’s important to understand what those parts do and why they are crucial to being successful in the classroom and life.
In the inner ear lies a complex labyrinth with many parts that work together to turn sound waves into electrical signals so our brain can hear what we need to hear. The vestibular system is at the end of the inner ear, next to the cochlea. The vestibular system is made up of two cavities, the sacculus and the utriculus, and three tubes, the semicircular canals. All of these parts are lined with hair cells and filled with fluid. These tiny, tiny parts in our ears are the control centers for our movements. When our head and bodies move, the labyrinth, containing the vestibular system, moves with us.
“This fluid [in the labyrinth] flows at a different pace and this difference in speed of movement will stimulate the sensory cells. The resulting neural impulse is sent to the vestibular nerve, which carries the message to the brain. These vestibular sensations record body positions and movement, permitting their control” (When Listening Comes Alive).
So the vestibular system controls how we move through life, our balance and coordination because it controls every muscle in our body. Thanks to the vestibule, we can move about and our bodies don’t get confused by the gravitational pull.
The cochlea, a snail like structure in our inner ear, controls our ability to hear and speak. It also is filled with hair cells and fluid. The vibrations are sent through the cochlea and turned into electrical signals for our brain to understand.
The Vestibule Cochlea Link
In the real world, the vestibule and the cochlea are studied by two completely different groups of professionals. When someone has problems with their vestibular system, they go to a physical or occupational therapist. If someone has problems with their cochlea, they go to an auditory specialist. However, the distinct separation of these two systems can make it easy to miss the important ways in which they work together.
“The inner ear is a single entity. Any dysfunction of one of its parts leads to a more or less marked dysfunction of the entire system” (When Listening Comes Alive).
In order for the cochlea to perform optimally, it needs to be completely vertical. When babies begin to sit up, crawl and walk, they usually start to speak as well. The more the body is attempting to move to the optimal position for the cochlea, the better the cochlea can work. This is why speech therapists might place a child on a balance board. Once their equilibrium is balanced, they will start making noises (When Listening Comes Alive).
Another way that children with physical problems and children with speaking or listening issues can find relief is through music. Music is both rhythm, that stimulates the vestibular system, and melody, which stimulates the cochlear system. Music therapists find a lot of success in their patients because they are forcing the cochlear system and the vestibular system to work together.
The Vestibule, Cochlea and Learning
When the vestibule and cochlea are not in sync as they should be, there are so many different problems that can occur, all which impact learning. It usually starts with the child beginning to slouch, then move awkwardly because their balance and movements skills are impacted. Their social skills become impacted as they are shy, scared to communicate with people out of fear that they might embarrass themselves because their speech becomes impaired. They lack the natural flow and sentence structure that most people speak with. They have language processing problems, they can’t seem to make sense of the sounds that they hear. They have poor motor planning, poor body image and they have difficulty with visual spatial processing. Due to all these issues, they feel insecure in trying to navigate the world.
“No wonder that children who are affected with some of these problems feel emotionally insecure. If they cannot trust their most basic senses, how can they trust themselves They spend their time trying to compensate for their difficulties and more often than not, suffer from low self-esteem since they think that they cannot do things, especially new things, and tend to feel stupid. Indeed, the influence of the vestibule reaches far and wide” (When Listening Comes Alive).
So what can be done to build confidence in a child whose vestibule and cochlea are not in sync? First, contact a hearing specialist. They can really focus on what the exact problem is. As always, when your child’s learning is being affected by a disability, contact your child’s teacher as well as their special education team to see what modifications can be given to your child to help them succeed. Enroll them in a music therapy program to get their vestibule and cochlea communicating. Practice their motor planning skills. After a proper amount of therapy and practice, they will learn to navigate the world despite their inner ear problems.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs