The ability to hear well can affect a child’s development. Hearing determines a child’s capacity for speech and development of social skills. Hearing loss ranges from mild to profound and can affect one or both ears. Early intervention for hearing loss is crucial for children. There are 4 common early warning signs to detect hearing loss in a child.
1. Delayed speech
When a child’s speech is delayed, loud, or not clear, this may be an early warning sign. For the hearing-impaired child, everything comes at one volume. Children’s speech will tend to be at a much higher volume than what would expect. Delayed or unclear speech is another symptom of poor hearing. The ability to hear and speech go hand in hand.
2. Frequently asking to have things repeated
When children often ask for a sentence to be repeated this is another sign of possible diminished hearing. This action is often misunderstood as defiance or not paying attention. Children with hearing difficulties will react as though the original question was never heard. A child may recognize an adult is talking or asking a question but will have little idea or recognition of what was said.
3. High volume
When the child consistently turns the volume up high this may because this the only volume that’s acceptable. Even in a closed space, a child with hearing difficulties will often seek to turn up the volume. Kids with hearing problems may choose to listen to music with headphones on, even when other options are available.
4. Not following directions
Many children who frequently do not follow directions are doing so because the instructions were not clear. Not following directions is more than just not paying attention or being lazy. After prompting many children with hearing difficulties are more than glad to follow instructions. The problem lies in being able to hear and understand directions clearly.
Early hearing evaluations are critical
A general hearing evaluation is performed shortly after birth before the baby leaves the hospital. All babies will undergo a full hearing test at or before 1 month of age. Screening for infants takes only a few minutes. Children will need to have hearing tested again before beginning school. Caught early enough, hearing loss in children is treatable. Early intervention is important. Signs of hearing loss for infants are a bit different than for older children.
Treatments for diminished hearing in children
What type of therapy is appropriate for a child will depend on the type of hearing loss and severity. Consulting an otolaryngologist that works with children is the first step. Treatments can include ear tubes, hearing aids, medication or surgery. An ENT will conduct more extensive hearing tests to determine the best course of action. Not all hearing loss is permanent and early intervention is the best step for a child’s development. There are many auditory therapies and listening devices that can immediately improve a child’s quality of life Speaking to a physician who specializes in ear problems will provide information on the best way to help a child work through the difficulties of diminished hearing.