How Hearing Loss May Impact Your Child’s Development

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“The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness…For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus — the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.” – Helen Keller

Millions of Americans are affected by hearing loss. Some develop it gradually over the years as they age and some are born hearing impaired. It is these youngest of the hearing impaired, along with their families, who face unique challenges and concerns about hearing loss and development.

Kids and hearing loss

Approximately 1.4 babies in every 1000 have hearing loss, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14.9% of children 6 to 19 years of age have low- or high-frequency hearing loss of at least 16-decibel hearing level in one or both ears. There are many reasons children may become hearing impaired including genetics, birth complications, head injuries and certain ototoxic medications.

What is most important is early diagnosis and treatment. In fact, it is so important that newborns are now routinely screened at birth and interventions put into place by the age of six months.

The effects of hearing loss

Research has found that early intervention is crucial when it comes to hearing loss in kids. This is because hearing ability is key to child development. Untreated hearing loss can delay language and speech, impact social interaction and development and, hamper academic success.

Tracking milestones and behaviors like these is a good way to catch hearing loss early. If you believe your child may have a hearing impairment, contact your pediatrician or hearing healthcare professional for a hearing evaluation.

Now what?

If your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, the next step is a treatment plan or intervention. Depending on the amount and type of hearing loss, your child’s hearing healthcare provider may recommend speech therapy, assistive listening devices, hearing aids, or even a cochlear implant. These solutions will help support your child’s development even with hearing loss.

Throughout diagnosis, treatment and as they grow, you as the parent have the all-important job of advocating for and supporting your hearing impaired child. There are several ways you can do this including:

  • Fully understanding your child’s diagnosis including the extent and nature of the hearing loss, treatments and interventions.
  • Engaging and interacting with your child to foster development through social interaction and play.
  • Communicate with family and friends about how to communicate and interact with your hearing impaired child and model the behaviors. This may require you, family and friends learning new communication strategies.
  • Learning about the services and organizations available to you and your child. This may include resources available to help your child thrive in school, organizations that offer support for the hearing impaired and their families and even community and online resources that may be available to offer guidance.

Help your child thrive. Hearing loss doesn’t have to impact child development negatively. Early diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference!

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