Hearing is one of the most important feelings that makes our life bright and happy. We rarely think about it until the doctor diagnoses hearing loss. Modern technology has made it easy to help with hearing problems.
However, any American with a hearing loss will tell you that it is not always easy to address hearing needs right away. There is some reluctance when it comes to wearing a hearing device and the changes in daily routine it may require. Adults spend a lot of time and energy returning to their old life. And what about kids then?
Why is healthy hearing so important for kids?
Hearing plays an important role in life. Its loss causes physiological and psychological problems. Untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, isolation, balance issues and many other things that are part of everyday regular life. When it comes to children, even mild losses should not be ignored.
Kids with hearing-impairment have trouble not only with the perception of sounds but also with the social aspects of that difficulty. If you leave this unattended at an early age, you can face the resulting problem – the underdevelopment of speech and language. It may be hard to believe, but it’s the ability to hear that develops your vocabulary and sentence structures. It aids social interaction and helps in creating a person’s character/personality.
Unlike adults, a child, especially a newborn, cannot tell about the presence of impairment. In the United States, all babies undergo newborn hearing screening in the first days after birth. According to research, 2 out of 1000 babies have a problem. Testing reduces the likelihood of missing out on congenital hearing loss in infants and babies. However, screening is not a definitive diagnosis. In any case, parents should notice alarming symptoms, which may indicate problems with the baby. Dr. Stella Fulman notes it is important to check speech and language milestones to make sure your baby is developing appropriately. Several signs to look out for as your child grows:
Ignoring a sound source, even a loud one (not infants)
Doesn’t change facial expression when there is a sound of voice or loud noise in silence (not infants)
Doesn’t try to imitate sounds or intonation as infant grows
Didn’t start babbling to himself or stops babbling
Signs of hearing loss can manifest in different ways in children. If you notice any of the signs described above, this doesn’t mean that your baby has a problem. Maybe he’s just doing something else. But it’s better to consult a doctor.
Children and hearing loss is a subject, which requires maximum attention. For you to define the kind of hearing deprivation, potential causes, and viable treatment options, a child needs to undergo two examinations. An otologist will carry an otologic evaluation, and a qualified audiologist will perform an audiological test.
Many schools regularly test children for their hearing status. It is mainly a screening that is done in the school, if your child fails that screening it is important to follow up and obtain a full audiological evaluation. It’s important to identify the type of loss and appropriate treatment and management.
How can I help my child?
Timely diagnosis is the most important step in helping a child with hearing loss. The sooner you discover the impairment and start solving it, the faster and easier the adaptation will be. Don’t wait for the child to withdraw or act out. Audiology Island emphasizes that babies with confirmed permanent hearing loss should receive all necessary assistance within 3 months of diagnosis. Thus, the baby will not have problems with speech and language development in the future.
Treatment will depend on the type of hearing impairment. If the diagnosis confirms a permanent type of hearing loss, then hearing aids will be the best solution. Today there are different models of hearing aids for kids. Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro recommends using behind-the-ear (BTE) models. Such devices are efficient and easy to maintain. In addition, you’ll be able to remake the part that sits in the child’s ear, earmold, as the child grows.
Profound and severe hearing loss can have more options than just hearing aids. After a hearing aid trial a cochlear implant can be considered. It’s a device, which bypasses the damaged parts of the ear that have caused hearing loss and will transmit sound sound signals to the brain. During the operation, a doctor inserts a system of electrodes into the inner ear. It ensures the perception of sound information by electrostimulation of the remaining fibers of the auditory nerve.
In any case, only a specialist prescribes an effective treatment. The main task of parents is to notice the problem in time, ask for help and follow all the assigned recommendations. Children with hearing loss can catch up if they receive proper diagnosis and timely treatment.
What about an educational audiologist?
Hearing aids are irreplaceable helpers for kids with hearing loss. But they are not always enough. For example, background noise during learning can prevent a child from hearing information even at the maximum volume that is needed for the child. You need the help of an educational audiologist once the child is in the school setting to provide the best educational support. Educational audiologists will help with the set up of assistive listening devices, FM systems, etc. The school audiologist will aslo train the teachers and supporting staff on care and use of the needed hearing equipment.
The Educational Audiology Association ensures that every child has access to an audiologist. The school will generally be responsible for making sure there is an audiologist that can help your child with hearing in an educational setting.
Remember that a hearing loss is not a sentence. The main thing is to notice the problem in time and follow the prescribed treatment and recommendations. In this case, your child will grow up to be a successful and happy person!
About Dr Stella Fulman
Dr. Stella Fulman, AU.D., CCC-A received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Audiology from Brooklyn College in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in 2008. [ Learn More ]