According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery (AAO), “three million children under the age of 18 have some hearing loss including four out of every thousand newborns.”
While that may not sound like much, it is quite an astounding number! Especially since it is directly related to delays in speech and language development. The earlier a child experiences a hearing loss and the longer it goes on without treatment, more and more natural speech and language development opportunities are missed.
As a parent it is important to know the newborn hearing screening your child has at birth is not the only hearing screen they should have in their early years. Especially since it is just that, a screening.
When I had my daughter in August 2015, a tech came in to check my little ones hearing and after three tries, she could only get a good read on one ear. She came back later and still couldn’t get a good read on both ears at the same time. She came back the next day and was still having trouble. This next part is what has me concerned as a pediatric speech-language pathologist…
She was going to leave the paperwork with me and told me that her hearing was most likely fine. But that did NOT sit well with me since I know my child needs to hear in order to develop speech and language skills (hello, it’s what I do for a living!)
We were rooming-in and my daughter had been by my side since birth but I needed to know her hearing was within normal limits for a newborn. So off she went to the Audiologist to get an official hearing test done. She came back and her hearing was perfectly fine.
The point of me sharing this story with you is that most parents are not made aware of the importance of this early hearing screening and hearing in general on speech and language development. If your child cannot hear and you are not using sign language, your child is missing out on very very very important early learning opportunities.
So what should you be looking for in your newborn, infant or toddler? According the the AAO you want to look for the following responses to their environment:
Newborn (Birth to 6 Months)
- Does not startle, move, cry or react in any way to unexpected loud noises.
- Does not awaken to loud noises.
- Does not freely imitate sound.
- Cannot be soothed by voice alone.
- Does not turn his/her head in the direction of
- Does not point to familiar persons or objects
- Does not babble, or babbling has stopped.
- By 12 months does not understand simple phrases by listening alone, such as wave bye-bye, or clap hands.
Infant (3 months to 2 years)
- Does not accurately turn in the direction of a soft voice on the first call.
- Is not alert to environmental sounds.
- Does not respond on first call.
- Does not respond to sounds or does not locate where sound is coming from.
- Does not begin to imitate and use simple words for familiar people and things around the home.
- Does not sound like or use speech like other
children of similar age.
- Does not listen to TV at a normal volume.
- Does not show consistent growth in the understanding and the use of words.
This information and more details on getting a hearing test and what that entails can be found at ENTNET.ORG
May is better speech and hearing month. Let’s do all that we can to make sure our children ARE hearing what is said to them so we can be sure they are learning.