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What is Hearing Loss in Children?
Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop speech, language, and social skills. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential. If you think that a child might have hearing loss, ask the child’s doctor for a hearing screening as soon as possible. Don’t wait!
What is Hearing Loss?
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss are different for each child. If you think that your child might have hearing loss, ask the child’s doctor for a hearing screening as soon as possible. Don’t wait!
Even if a child has passed a hearing screening before, it is important to look out for the following signs.
Signs in Babies
- Does not startle at loud noises.
- Does not turn to the source of a sound after 6 months of age.
- Does not say single words, such as “dada” or “mama” by 1 year of age.
- Turns head when he or she sees you but not if you only call out his or her name. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
- Seems to hear some sounds but not others.
Signs in Children
- Speech is delayed.
- Speech is not clear.
- Does not follow directions. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
- Often says, “Huh?”
- Turns the TV volume up too high.
Babies and children should reach milestones in how they play, learn, communicate and act. A delay in any of these milestones could be a sign of hearing loss or other developmental problem. Visit our web page to see milestones that children should reach from 2 months to 5 years of age.
Screening and Diagnosis
Hearing screening can tell if a child might have hearing loss. Hearing screening is easy and is not painful. In fact, babies are often asleep while being screened. It takes a very short time — usually only a few minutes.
All babies should have a hearing screening no later than 1 month of age. Most babies have their hearing screened while still in the hospital. If a baby does not pass a hearing screening, it’s very important to get a full hearing test as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months of age.
Children should have their hearing tested before they enter school or any time there is a concern about the child’s hearing. Children who do not pass the hearing screening need to get a full hearing test as soon as possible.
Treatments and Intervention Services
No single treatment or intervention is the answer for every person or family. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way. There are many different types of communication options for children with hearing loss and for their families. Some of these options include:
- Learning other ways to communicate, such as sign language
- Technology to help with communication, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants
- Medicine and surgery to correct some types of hearing loss
- Family support services
Causes and Risk Factors
Hearing loss can happen any time during life – from before birth to adulthood.
Following are some of the things that can increase the chance that a child will have hearing loss:
- A genetic cause: About 1 out of 2 cases of hearing loss in babies is due to genetic causes. Some babies with a genetic cause for their hearing loss might have family members who also have a hearing loss. About 1 out of 3 babies with genetic hearing loss have a “syndrome.” This means they have other conditions in addition to the hearing loss, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome. Learn more about the genetics of hearing loss »
- 1 out of 4 cases of hearing loss in babies is due to maternal infections during pregnancy, complications after birth, and head trauma. For example, the child:
- Was exposed to infection, such as , before birth
- Spent 5 days or more in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or had complications while in the NICU
- Needed a special procedure like a blood transfusion to treat bad jaundice
- Has head, face or ears shaped or formed in a different way than usual
- Has a condition like a neurological disorder that may be associated with hearing loss
- Had an infection around the brain and spinal cord called meningitis
- Received a bad injury to the head that required a hospital stay
- For about 1 out of 4 babies born with hearing loss, the cause is unknown.
Following are tips for parents to help prevent hearing loss in their children:
- Have a healthy pregnancy.
- Make sure your child gets all the regular childhood vaccines.
- Keep your child away from high noise levels, such as from very loud toys. Visit the National Institutes of Health’s websiteexternal icon to learn more about preventing noise-induced hearing loss.
- If you think that your child might have hearing loss, ask the child’s doctor for a hearing screening as soon as possible. Don’t wait!
- If your child does not pass a hearing screening, ask the child’s doctor for a full hearing test as soon as possible.
- If your child has hearing loss, talk to the child’s doctor about treatment and intervention services.
Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop speech, language, and social skills. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential. If you are a parent and you suspect your child has hearing loss, trust your instincts and speak with your child’s doctor.
A big thank you to Georgia Southern’s NSSHLA (National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association) for raising the funds to purchase a Maico portable audiometer for our hearing screening program. SSHC provides free hearing screenings to private and public preschools, elementary, middle and high schools in Chatham, Effingham and Bryan Counties. In 2019, along with 25 volunteers from GSU-Armstrong Campus we screened over 7,685 students.
Pictured are (LtoR) Sarah Roberson, Ann Curry, Volunteer Coordinator and Macall Brown, President of NSSLHA
As we enter hurricane season, it’s important for all of us to have an emergency plan in place. It’s even more important for those with hearing loss. Please read the article below to learn more!
As a speech/language pathologist with Savannah Speech and Hearing, I found this article on self-advocacy tips for students that stutter very interesting and helpful. When someone who stutters self-advocates, their self-esteem, social skills and confidence only increase. Check out the article below to learn more! – Cathy Nelson
Savannah Speech and Hearing Center’s weekly Stroke Support Group has thrived under the guidance of 20 smart graduate students in the Communication Science and Disorders Program. For the past 10 weeks these amazing young women bring joy, laughter and community to the members of the Stroke Support Group. As always we are sad to see them go!
April Garrity writes:
Communication Help for Adults after Stroke (CHATS) is a service-learning experience in coordination with an existing community stroke survivors’ group at Savannah Speech and Hearing. Each week graduate students in the speech-language pathology program develop and facilitate weekly modules with the Stroke Group. These modules are designed to be fun and interactive, and typically focus on topics of functional communication for activities of daily living. Activities emphasize the use of any available functional communicative modality – including speaking, writing, drawing, and gesturing – in conversation. The goal is to provide a fun, supportive environment, in which group participants practice communication skills and build confidence in these skills.
April W. Garrity, PhD CCC-SLP
Associate Professor and Clinic Coordinator
Communication Sciences and Disorders Program
Armstrong State University
Speech-Language Pathologists, or SLPs, are specialists that help children in a wide-range of ages with speech, talking and communication. Some may think that they only need to see a speech-language pathologist if their child has a lisp or stutter. Speech-Language Pathologists do so much more than you originally thought–from mild articulation delays to more complex disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, hearing loss, motor speech disorder and other developmental delays.
It is best to catch and correct a speech-language delay or disorder when the child is young. If you think your child may have trouble with communication, talking or speech, it is best to see a professional so they can begin working with your child to correct the delay or disorder as soon as possible. A child’s ability to communicate with others directly correlates to their quality of life.
Take a look and see how an SLP can help your child:
- Articulation Skills / Speech Intelligibility
Articulation is defined as the physical ability to move the tongue, lips, jaw and palate to produce individual speech sounds. Intelligibility refers to how well people can understand your child’s speech. If your child’s articulation is compromised, his intelligibility will be decreased. SLPs can work with your child to produce the specific speech sound or pattern that he / she is having difficulty with. This will have a direct and positive effect on his/her overall speech intelligibility.
- Expressive Language Skills
Speech involves the physical motor ability to talk. Language is defined as a symbolic, rule governed system used to convey a message. Language can be anything from spoken or written words and symbols to gestural symbols like a thumbs-up to indicate “I am or that is ok” or waving your hand to indicate “goodbye”. Expressive language refers to what your child says. SLPs can help your child learn new words, put them together to form phrases and sentences, and in turn, help your child communicate with you and others.
- Receptive Language / Listening Skills
Receptive language is your child’s ability to listen and understand language. Typically, you will see children with stronger receptive language skills than expressive language skills. SLPs have the tools to help teach your child learn new vocabulary and how to use that knowledge to follow directions and answer questions.
- Speech Fluency / Stuttering
Stuttering is a communication disorder that affects speech fluency, characterized by breaks in the flow of speech such as repetitions, prolongations, interjections and blocks, and typically begins in childhood. Everyone experiences this to an extent but too many breaks in speech can affect one’s ability to communicate. In more severe cases, you may see tension in the neck, shoulders, face, jaw, chest, eye blinks, nose flaring, clenched fists or other unusual movements in the arms, hands, legs and feet. SLPs can aid your child by teaching strategies on how to control this behavior.
- Voice and Resonance
Voice disorders affect the vocal folds that allow us to have a voice. This can come in many forms including vocal cord paralysis, nodules or polyps on the vocal folds, and other disorders that cause hoarseness or loss of voice. Resonance is defined as the quality of the voice that is determined by the balance of sound vibration in the oral, nasal and pharyngeal cavities during speech. Obstruction of one of the cavities can cause abnormal resonance. Hoarseness is common young children and is caused by vocal abuse such as yelling, excessive talking, coughing and throat clearing. SLPs work with children to decrease or eliminate these behaviors and repair the strain/damage of the folds.
- Social / Pragmatic Language
Social / pragmatic language is the way an individual uses language to communicate and involves using language to communicate in different ways (greeting, protesting, asking questions, etc), changing language according to the people or place it is being used (inside vs. outside voice) and following the rules for conversation (taking turns in conversation and using verbal and nonverbal cues). SLPs teach your child these social language skills so that they can more appropriately participate in conversations with others.
- Cognitive-Communication Skills
Cognitive-communication disorders are the impairment of cognitive processes including attention, memory, abstract reasoning and awareness. Children can be born with these deficits or they can be acquired due to a head injury, stroke, or degenerative disease. SLPs can help build skills and / or teach your child methods to assist them in their deficits.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
AAC is all forms of communication (other than oral speech) used to express thoughts, needs, wants and ideas. AAC is used when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write. SLPs number one goal is communication. For some children that have severe delays or disorders, having traditional oral speech is not possible or practical. In these cases, SLPs may work with a child and his/her family to come up with an AAC system that can be used in place of speech or used as a bridge to speech.
- Swallowing / Feeding Issues
SLPs can be trained (in addition to speech and language issues) in pediatric swallowing and feeding issues. SLP’s have intimate knowledge of the structures and functions of the oral cavities.
SLPs are often the first professionals to identify the root cause of reading and writing problems through a child’s difficulty with language. SLPs help children build the skills they need to be successful readers by:
- preventing written language problems by fostering language acquisition and emergent literacy
- identifying children at risk for reading and writing problems
- assessing reading and writing
- providing intervention and documenting outcomes for reading and writing programs
- assuming other roles when needed such as providing assistance to teachers and parents, and advocating for effective literacy practices.
- Educating and Empowering YOU on how to best help your child.
The best thing an SLP can do for your child is to educate you and empower you on how to best help your child. You are the one who spends the most time with your child, so you can have the biggest impact on their growth and improvement. Once you equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence, you can be the best “speech therapist” for your child. So do not hesitate to ask questions, take notes, do homework and work closely with your child’s SLP. Together, you and your SLP can make an amazing team for your child’s speech and language needs.