Prevalence, characteristics and impact of auditory and vestibular deficits in individuals with an intellectual disability.
Intellectual disability (ID) is defined as U+201C condition characterized by significant limitations in
intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour, originating during the developmental periodU+201D The
ID population has a higher prevalence of ear and hearing problems compared to the general
population, but existing literature is limited to national studies or subgroups of the highly
heterogeneous ID population. Furthermore, practically no information is available on the
occurrence of vestibular problems. Auditory and vestibular dysfunctions may have a negative impact
on social and communicative development, gross motor development and postural control, which
are already compromised by the cognitive impairment in persons with ID. This warrants the need for
reliable documentation of the occurrence and impact of auditory and/or vestibular deficits in the ID
population. Special Olympics (SO), an international sports organization for people with ID, has
implemented a Healthy Hearing (HH) screening programme during worldwide SO events since 1999.
This resulted in a database of more than 85000 athletes that has never been analyzed. The first
purpose of this project is to estimate the global prevalence of auditory dysfunctions in athletes with
ID by retrospectively analyzing this database. Additionally, the occurrence of auditory and vestibular
dysfunctions and their impact on the postural control and stability will be characterized in a
controlled Belgian population with ID.