Literacy skills of Australian Indigenous school children with and without otitis media and hearing loss.Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2014 Jun; 16(3):327-34.IJ
This study examined the relationship between reading, spelling, and the presence of otitis media (OM) and co-occurring hearing loss (HL) in metropolitan Indigenous Australian children, and compared their reading and spelling outcomes with those of their non-Indigenous peers. OM and HL may hinder language development and phonological awareness skills, but there is little empirical evidence to link OM/HL and literacy in this population. Eighty-six Indigenous and non-Indigenous children attending pre-primary, year one and year two at primary schools in the Perth metropolitan area participated in the study. The ear health of the participants was screened by Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre EarBus in 2011/2012. Participants' reading and spelling skills were tested with culturally modified sub-tests of the Queensland University Inventory of Literacy. Of the 46 Indigenous children, 18 presented with at least one episode of OM and one episode of HL. Results indicated that Indigenous participants had significantly poorer non-word and real word reading and spelling skills than their non-Indigenous peers. There was no significant difference between the groups of Indigenous participants with OM and HL and those with normal ear health on either measure. This research provides evidence to suggest that Indigenous children have ongoing literacy development difficulties and discusses the possibility of OM as one of many impacting factors.