The ability to hear well affects more than our ability to communicate; it also impacts a child's development of vocabulary and sentence structure, academic achievement, social interaction and career choice.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are four major ways that hearing loss can affect children:
it causes delays in speech and language skills
the language deficit results in lower academic achievement
communication difficulties lead to social isolation and poor self-concept
it may have an impact on vocational choices
Hearing impaired children have trouble learning abstract words like "before" and "after" and understanding words with multiple meanings. They often have trouble hearing certain sounds, such as "s", "sh", "f", "t", "k" and "ed," which affects the sentences they construct and the words they include in their vocabulary.
While the gap between children with normal hearing and those with hearing loss widens as they age, children with hearing loss can catch up if they receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
When Should Hearing-Impaired Children Get Treatment?
The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (2007) recommended that all infants have a hearing screening by the age of one month. Those who fail the newborn hearing screening should have an additional screening by the age of three months and those with confirmed permanent hearing loss receive intervention by the age of six months.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends babies who are born in a hospital be screened before they leave, and those which are not born in a hospital be taken to a hospital or clinic within a few days of birth.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Hearing Loss?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the first three years are a critical time for acquiring speech and language skills. This is when the brain is developing and maturing, making it a prime time for absorbing language. Experts agree infants should be exposed to an environment rich in sounds and language.
In the first three months of life, children should react to loud sounds and be calmed by a familiar voice. Infants three to six months should follow sound with their eyes, notice noisy toys, react to music and laugh, babble or make gurgling sounds.
Children as young as four weeks old can be fit with hearing aids and hearing assistive technology systems.
If you notice your child does is not responding to sound, consult with an Audiologist or a speech-language pathologist for further examination.
Don't Delay Treatment !
The important thing is to seek treatment quickly. Research indicates early intervention not only enhances speech and language development, but also improves social skills and academic success.
Children as young as four weeks old can be fit with hearing aids and hearing assistive technology systems. The most common type of hearing aid for infants and young children fits behind-the-ear (BTE) because the earmold can accommodate a wide variety of hearing losses, is easy to clean and adjust, and can be detached and remade as your child grows.