Most children learn how to speak by listening to the noises that those around them make. The child will hear words in their surroundings and will try to understand and interpret them.
In order for a child to learn a language, they will usually rely on their ability to hear noises and sounds. Trying to identify hearing loss in a child may require some effort. You may not notice that your child is hearing impaired until they reach the age of 2.
Here, our focus will be on hearing loss and whether or not it will have an impact on a child’s development.
Why is hearing important for children’s development?
In order to learn how to speak a language, a child must be able to hear what people say very clearly. If a child is hearing impaired then their development, in terms of their ability to learn a new language, may be delayed.
Their life may also be hindered in many other ways if their hearing is impaired. Their safety may be at risk if they are not being supervised by a responsible adult.
Children who suffer from hearing loss will need to pay extra attention to their surroundings in order to help protect themselves.
Effects of Hearing Loss on Children’s Development
The earlier the hearing loss develops, the more profound the impact will be on the child’s cognitive development. For instance, the child will suffer setbacks in terms of their expressive and responsive language skills if they are hearing impaired.
Their vocabulary may be stunted, and they may have trouble speaking or enunciating. Some children may develop a lisp or may stutter while they speak.
Sentence structure will also be impacted. For example, children with hearing loss will tend to use shorter and more simple sentences than children who have normal hearing.
Children with hearing loss will also have issues with function words as well as abstract words. They also tend to have trouble with quiet speech sounds which usually results in them avoiding such sounds when they speak.
As a result of their hearing issues, many children with hearing impairments will suffer in terms of their scholastic achievement. Many will suffer particularly in the areas of mathematics and reading comprehension.
They may also suffer in terms of their social functioning. Many children with hearing problems will feel isolated, depressed and sad. They may have trouble socializing with their peers and may become introverted as a result.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children
The child may not respond properly to sounds that are intense. They may not be able to detect where noises in a room are coming from and may not even respond to sounds when they are being held by their mother or father.
The child may also be born with an abnormal ear or may be missing one or both of their ears at birth. Speech delays are also common with children with hearing loss, and they may also suffer from dizziness and balance issues.
Your child may also begin to speak more loudly than usual and may appear as if they are not focused when they are at school.
How is hearing loss in children managed or treated?
A hearing test is usually the best way to start. Hearing aids are commonly used to help treat hearing loss. Accessories and special coverings may be included to ensure that the child does not remove or ingest the hearing aid.
Cochlear implants may be surgically implanted into the child instead. They use electrical pulses in order to stimulate the auditory nerve in the inner ear of the child.
Bone-anchored hearing systems work well for children who suffer from single-sided deafness or those who suffer from pronounced middle or outer ear defects.
Assistive listening equipment may also help manage hearing loss in children. They may work in conjunction with the child’s cochlear implant or hearing aid. FM systems can help a child learn while they are in class, and are also very discreet.
If the child’s speech has been impacted by their hearing loss then they may also require speech therapy. Speech therapy will help the child catch up on speech delays after they have received their cochlear implant or hearing aid.
Choosing a hearing aid may require some help from your doctor or hearing specialist.
There is Hope
Hearing issues can be overcome if they are found early on in the child’s development. Newborn hearing screening will be able to identify most hearing problems after the infant is born.
Hearing tests are essential in order to diagnose many hearing pathologies. An audiologist is a hearing specialist that is trained to administer hearing tests and diagnose a myriad of hearing problems.
Hearing loss in children: Everything you need to know (healthyhearing.com)
10 signs of hearing loss in children | Look for these symptoms (hear-it.org)
Effects of Hearing Loss on Development | Reading Rockets
Why hearing is important for children’s development | Oticon
Hearing Loss: Hearing Aid, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Types (clevelandclinic.org)