Signs Your Child May Have a Hearing Loss
Jun 17 2019
While some children are diagnosed with hearing loss at birth, following his or her newborn hearing screening, other children do not exhibit signs of hearing loss until later in life. For parents and guardians it is important to know the signs of hearing loss in young children to ensure they connect with resources to help them develop language from an early age.
Signs Your Infant or Toddler May Be Hard of Hearing
Even if your child was not diagnosed with hearing loss following his or her newborn hearing screening, he or she can still become hard of hearing over time. Keeping an eye on developmental milestones pertaining to language – and whether or not your child is meeting them – is one way to detect early signs of hearing loss. For example:
· Does your infant or toddler respond to loud noises? (Is he or she startled? Does he or she cry?)
· Does your child turn his or her head to locate the source of sound? (e.g., mom or dad talking, family dog barking, etc.)
· Are there a few simple words or sounds in your child’s vocabulary by the time of his or her first birthday? (Think: mama, bye, etc.) Can he or she communicate with two-word phases by the second birthday? (Think: All done, More please, etc.) How about short sentences by age 3? (Think: I want milk. Read the book. etc.)
· Does your toddler respond to the sound of his or her name?
· Does your toddler consistently ask for noises – music, television volume, etc. – to be louder?
· Does your child seem to be visually attentive?
Signs Your School-Aged Child May Have Hearing Loss
For some children, loss of hearing may develop over time. There is a wide range of causes, such as frequent middle ear infections, ototoxic medications, wax blockages, illnesses that provoke high fevers (meningitis, measles, mumps), and genetic predispositions to progressive hearing loss, which can contribute to their loss of hearing. Fortunately, early diagnosis can help to minimize language and learning delays that may result from hearing loss. Signs your child may have difficulty hearing include:
· Repeatedly saying “what” or “huh” in response to directions or other oral conversation
· Positioning himself or hersefl in close proximity to the television or a sound system when listening to music
· Increasingly asking to adjust media to a higher volume
· Exhibiting unclear speech, including frequent mispronunciation of words
· Struggling to process verbal information when presented with settings with high volumes of background noise
· Appearing to be more focused on visual cues (lip movement, hand gestures, etc.) than spoken words during conversation
· Seeming unresponsive or inattentive
What Happens After the Diagnosis?
Hearing loss can range from mild to profound and how children exhibit this loss can vary. Hearing loss must be addressed prior to speech and language therapy. A pediatrician office can perform a screener and a complete test can be performed with an audiologist. If hearing aids are appropriate, they will be provided prior to speech therapy.
While some children may make adequate progress with speech therapy to help them overcome any language delays, others may benefit from a comprehensive approach to treating hearing loss that includes a combination of therapeutic services (including speech therapy and, possibly, occupational therapy), learning American Sign Language (ASL) and the support of a hearing assistive device such as hearing aids.
Every child is unique but the key to helping prevent any language or learning delays associated with hearing loss is connecting children with resources from an early age. Whether he or she is young enough to benefit from participating in a Birth-to-Three program or have access to speech therapy and other supports in local elementary, middle or high school, connecting deaf and hard of hearing children with resources to minimize language barriers is key to setting them up for a lifetime of continued learning and success.