PAEDIATRIC HEARING LOSS
DOES SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAVE A HEARING LOSS?
- Baby – Does not respond or startle to loud noises?
- Baby – Does not turn to the source of a sound after 6 months of age?
- Child – Has delayed speech development?
- Child or older – Has difficulty understanding what people say?
- Child or older – Turns the TV or radio volume up too high?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, the individual in question may be experiencing a hearing loss. Please contact a specialist hearing clinic capable of carrying out diagnostic tests.
Accepting Your Child’s Hearing Loss
The idea of having to cope with a hearing loss has probably left you feeling shocked and numb, or sad and worried about the future. It may be hart for you to accept what the doctors are saying. You may be thinking “Why us?” because you never expected something like this to happen. This is a perfectly understandable reaction.
It takes time – maybe even years – to understand and accept the fact that your child has a hearing loss. As soon as you are able to do this, you can begin to focus on how to cope with it. And when you’re ready, you can gather more information that will help you deal with the practical side of things.
If you need advice don’t hesitate to ask the audiologist, teachers, hearing care professionals or other parents to children with hearing loss. They know a lot about your situation.
Remember that you are not alone. Hearing loss is more common than you think.
Why hearing is so important:
We start to develop languages from the moment we are born. At first, babies only make crying, sneezing, yawning and coughing sounds. Even though they haven’t yet learned to talk, they are constantly listening. A newborn baby can soon recognize its mother’s voice.
If a child has a hearing loss the basic development of language will often by delayed.
Many children with a pro-found hearing loss also can learn to speak if they are diagnosed relatively early.
So the earlier the hearing loss is detected, and the earlier it is treated the better. With today’s technology, children can be fitted with hearing aids within the first few weeks or months after birth.
Firstly, they need to be fitted with the right kind of hearing aid. Then, when the time is right, the can get special speech and language therapy.
If the hearing loss is so extreme that even very powerful hearing aids don’t help, your child can still learn to communicate.
Building the future
Children are our future. By giving them access to the wealth of sounds that enrich today’s world, we can help them to develop the auditory skills they need to build their future.
The hearing is one of a child’s most previous senses. Through hearing, children develop langue and communication skills, marvel at the sounds of our bustling world, learn to read, appreciate music and be warned of approaching danger.
Hearing loss does not put an end to all these if amplification is provided early. Often, by acting early and selecting the right technological solutions, such sounds including speech can be learned. The outlook for children with hearing impairment is now bright with the full range of options.
Communication Milestones :
The cochlea which is the sensory organ of hearing attains the full adult size and enables the child to hear by the 20th week of the pregnancy. This means that children can be exposed to the sound of their mothers and other voices even before they are born.
After birth, a new born child’s cochlear sensitivity is similar to that of adults, but babies must learn how to use their hearing to form the foundations of communication.
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 extreme accuracy.
Observing your child’s localization ability :
In general, newborns will move or widen their eyes when they hear a loud sound. This is known as the startle reflex and many loud sounds should induce this reflex. When your infant gets to about five or six months, you can better observe at true localization response by making soft sounds behind or to the other side of your infant while he or she 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 seen how well your baby responds to soft sounds ( such as 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 ringing doorbell or telephone, slamming a door, children playing, musical toy and speech.
Signs of hearing difficulties
You should always be aware when your child does not respond appropriately to sounds. Sometimes a lack of response if attributed to inattention, but it is important to determine if inconsistent or no responses actually stem from an inability to hear.
What to watch for in your baby’s hearing…
|Birth to three months…||• Startles to sudden loud noises
• Stirs wake up or cry too loud sounds
• Soothes or calms to your voice
• Makes cooing sounds
|Three to six months…||• Begins to turn eyes or head to sounds
• Stops crying when spoken to
• Awakens easily to sounds
• Begins making vowel sounds such as “ah” and “ou”
|Six to nine months…||• Looks for family members when named
• Turns head towards sounds
• Will respond to own name
• Responds to simple requests with gestures
• Begins babbling, such as “baba” and “mamama”
• Uses voice to get your attention
|Nine to twelve months…||• Understands “No”, “Bye bye”
• Responds to soft sounds
• Looks at pictures when named
• Repeats simple sounds that you make
• Uses voice when playing alone
Common signs that children may not be hearing normally.
- Not aware someone who is out of view is talking, especially when distractions are minimal.
- Startled or surprised look, when they realize their name, has been called (at a normal or even fairly loud level)
- Using “what?” or “Huh?” frequently.
- Intently watching the faces of a speaker.
- Sitting close to the television set when the volume is sufficient for other family members.
- Increasing the volume of the TV or stereo to unreasonably loud levels.
- Not responding to voices over the telephone and / or switching ears continually.
- Not reacting to intense, loud sounds.
The single most important signs of possible hearing loss, however, is a lack or delayed development of speech and language.
What to do if you think your child may have a hearing loss :
If you think a hearing loss may be present the first step is to ask your medical practitioner to refer your child for an audiological assessment. This assessment will determine whether a hearing impairment exists and to what degree. No child is too young to receive a thorough hearing evaluation. Today’s technology even allows newborns to be tested for hearing loss.
Newborn Hearing Screening
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, to what degree, and to help discover what type. Test results are recorded on an audiogram.
If the results of the tests show that your child has a hearing loss, remember that your child is living in an age where technology ensures that children with impaired hearing can grow up to lead full and successful lives.