HEARING LOSS IN
If you suspect or if you know that your child has a hearing loss,
you may not find it easy to come to terms with it. As you have the desire
to find the best possible solution for your child, many questions will
occur to you. This section attempts to provide answers to some of your questions and tells you where you can find
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOUR CHILD HAS
A HEARING LOSS
First, try not to worry, there is a whole range of technological
and medical solutions to help and now more than ever children with hearing
loss are able to live full and successful lives. The first step is to meet
with a medical practitioner who may refer your child for tests which help
determine hearing levels in infants or children. No child is too young to
receive a thorough hearing evaluation. In fact, hearing assessment can
even be completed at birth.
While simple hearing screenings may be conducted by nurses or
trained volunteers, a complete assessment of hearing in a child should
only be completed by an audiologist.
The purpose of the audiological evaluation is to determine if a
hearing loss exists in one or both ears, to what degree, and to help
determine the type of hearing loss. Test results are recorded on an
The cochlea which is the sensory organ of hearing, attains full
adult size and enables the child to hear by the 20th week of pregnancy.
This means that children can be used to the sound of their mothers and
other voices even before they are born. It is therefore possible for the
child to be aware of music and other sounds which can prove soothing when
the child is born as they are associated with the protected life in-utero.
After birth, a newborn child's cochlear sensitivity is similar to
adults, but babies must learn how to use their hearing to form the
foundations of communication.
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT (AGE DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES)
The following milestones are rough "rules of thumb" for the
majority of children. If your child is more than 2-3 months delayed
compared to the age-groups mentioned below, it might indicate hearing loss
or delayed speech-language development.
Demonstrate an understanding of simple words
"mommy," "daddy," "no," "bye-bye."
► 10 months:
Babbling should sound "speech like," with
single syllables strung together ("da-da-da-da").The first
recognizable words emerge at about this time.
► 1 year:
One or more real words spoken
► 18 months:
Understand simple phrases, retrieve familiar
objects on command (without gestures) and point to body parts. Also
should have a spoken vocabulary between 20 and 50 words and use short
phrases ("no more," "go out," "mommy up").
► 24 months:
Spoken vocabulary should be at least 150 words,
coupled with the emergence of simple two word sentences. Most speech
should be understandable to adults who are not with the child daily.
Toddlers also should be able to sit and listen to read-aloud picture
► 3 to 5 years:
Spoken language should be used constantly to
express wants, reflect emotions, convey information and ask questions.
A preschooler should understand nearly all that is said. Vocabulary
grows from 1000 to 2000 words which are linked in complex and
meaningful sentences. All speech sounds should be clear and
understandable by the end of the preschool period.
One of the earliest and easiest auditory skills to observe in your
baby is localization, the ability to pinpoint the source of a sound.
Because we hear through two ears (binaurally), we can localize sounds with
OBSERVING YOUR CHILD'S LOCALISATION ABILITY
In general, newborns will move or widen their eyes when they hear a
sound, this is known as the startle reflex. Any loud sound should induce
this reflex. When your infant gets older, about five or six months, you
can better observe a true localization response by making soft sounds
behind or to the side of your infant while your baby is looking straight
ahead. (Be sure you are out of view when making the sounds!) A soft
rattle, shake or a whisper should prompt your baby to turn his or her head
toward the sound.
While we expect infants to startle when presented with very loud sounds,
it is most important to see how well your baby responds to soft sounds
(such as the speech sound "s").
During the first year, your baby will refine listening skills and should
alert to and look for the sources of common sounds around the home, such
as a ringing doorbell or telephone, slamming door, children playing, a
musical toy and speech
TRUST YOUR INTUITION
trust your intuition if you suspect your child has trouble hearing. If in
doubt, make an appointment to see an audiologist or consult your family
doctor to arrange a hearing test.
A child is never too young to have their hearing tested, and studies have
shown that the sooner a child is fitted with hearing aids, the better
their language skills can develop.
A hearing test is a simple and painless way to check whether your child is
getting the absolute most out of the world around him or her.
MORE ABOUT HOW A
CHILD'S HEARING LOSS IS DIAGNOSED AND HOW TO PROCEED AFTER THE DIAGNOSIS
process is there to confirm or dismiss your suspicions regarding your
child’s hearing. Following several tests or perhaps several appointments,
your audiologist or physician will provide you with the results of your
child’s tests and a diagnosis.
You will be told of the type of hearing loss (conductive, sensorineural or
mixed), degree of hearing loss (mild to profound) and whether one or both
ears are affected. A prognosis, describing the expected change in the
hearing loss over time should also be provided.
INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT
the amount of information you may be given, your audiologist or physician
will gladly supplement this by providing you with facts about hearing
loss. Further discussion will focus on essential information which will
assist you in deciding the best course of action in order to increase your
child’s quality of life.
may have suspected your child’s hearing loss, its confirmation typically
comes as a shock. Some parents may blame themselves and experience
feelings of despair.
deny or be unable to come to terms with the impairment. These reactions
are quite normal. A certain amount of healing and acceptance must
therefore occur to prepare for the times ahead.
Many of these
emotions may arise from unanswered questions. Often, the answers to these
questions and awareness of the solutions available can be a source of
talk about it to anyone whom you may feel will shed some light on the
subject or simply be there to listen to your concerns. Such questions as
"Will my child’s life be hampered by the hearing loss?", "Will my child
speak normally?" are quite typical.
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE
vast resources available to you and your child.
You may wish
to talk to your audiologist, physician, other parents or educators or
other hearing impaired children, or even individuals who themselves were
diagnosed with hearing loss during childhood.
Not only can
these people help to answer your questions and address your concerns, but
their stories may also help give you a positive perspective on the entire
hearing healthcare professional to direct you to organisations
for hearing impaired people in your area