The Masonic Charitable Foundation has awarded charity Action on Hearing Loss nearly £80,000 to fully fund a pioneering research project investigating a largely unexplored hearing disorder and helping to diagnose the condition, which could affect up to 10 per cent of children and explain poor school performance.

The £79,500 donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation will be funding a three year project to be undertaken by student Shiran Koifman, 29 from London, at University College London (UCL) who will be developing new tests that medical professionals can use to help diagnose Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) in young children.

APD is a hearing or listening problem caused by the brain not processing sounds in the normal way. Children with the condition may have difficulty responding to sounds, understanding things they’re told, concentrating, and expressing themselves with speech. With suspicions that APD may lead to learning difficulties for language and literacy, there is an urgent need for a better understanding of the disorder to support children through school. 

Shiran Koifman said: “My previous work has focused on developing tests of speech perception for adults, so I’m very grateful to Action on Hearing Loss and the Freemasons for giving me this opportunity to progress further and move into studying speech perception in children. I’m particularly interested in investigating children who report a lot of difficulty in understanding speech, particularly in background noise, so who are suspected of having an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). I’m really excited to be part of a project which can have such a direct impact in a clinical setting and I hope that maybe five years from now it can mean that a child and their family get a clear diagnosis of APD which will assist the clinicians in planning more effective solutions for living with APD and understand what this means.”

Ralph Holme, Trevor Koschalka & Shiran Koifman

Dr Ralph Holme, Director of Research at charity Action on Hearing Loss, said: “We are delighted that the Masonic Charitable Foundation has provided this vital funding to allow more research into Auditory Processing Disorder. Currently, we do not have any firm figures on how many children are living with APD but it is possible that as many as 10 per cent of children may have it to some degree which can severely affect their development and school performance, without parents being aware. We are hopeful that the results Shiran uncovers will help to clarify what APD is and provide us with diagnostic tools so that children struggling with APD can be identified and given the support they need to achieve at school.”

London Freemasons Charity Liaison Team Manager, Trevor Koschalka, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to help Action on Hearing Loss with this extremely important research. This could be the first step in helping thousands of children to make the most of their time at school, giving them the best possible start in life.”

Action on Hearing Loss runs the world’s largest donor-supported hearing research programme, dedicated to funding research into better treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus. More information can be found at: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk