It has been estimated that around one in three people with learning disabilities may have a sensory impairment, rendering the condition far more common amongst this community than it is amongst the general population.
The term ‘hearing impairment’ applies when an individual’s hearing is affected by a physical condition or injury. People can be born with hearing loss, or it may develop with age.
Around 40% (exact estimates vary) of adults with a learning disability experience moderate to severe hearing loss.
In some cases it may exacerbate the effects of an individual’s learning disability, because it may sometimes go unrecognised or undiagnosed, with the behaviours associated with hearing loss being instead considered part of the learning disability.
Untreated hearing loss can contribute to delayed speech and language development, difficulties with learning, and problems communicating with others, so a diagnosis as early as possible is vital, especially for people who may already experience difficulties in these areas.
Hearing problems are particularly common among people with Down’s syndrome, and, as with the general population, become both more likely and more extensive as people age.