Is Your Child Affected by Hearing Loss?

Posted by Living Sounds

September is upon us and it’s the time of year for getting back into a routine after enjoying the beautiful summer months. The kids are back in school and geared up for another great year. But wait, do you ever stop and wonder if your child can hear their teacher? Do they struggle to hear their friends and family? I was diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss at age 9 and I still remember the day I was told I needed to wear hearing aids. I was shocked! It was hard and I kept thinking “How can this be, I’m so young”.

According to the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists, approximately three to five per 1,000 babies born each year in Canada have some degree of hearing loss. Early development is the basis for future academic and life skills. It is during this period that a child’s capacity to learn is largely established. If diagnosed early, children affected with hearing disorders are not unduly harmed during the critical years of their intellectual, social and communication development.

I had a moderate hearing loss that did not get noticed until I was in grade 4. Although I was hard of hearing I had unknowingly developed coping strategies to communicate. It was my teacher who eventually suspected I had a hearing loss and recommended an assessment. Although it was not an easy transition when I started wearing hearing aids, it was truly the best thing for me. I cannot stress enough the importance of early diagnosis, and taking care of your child’s hearing.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s hearing, the Canadian Academy of Audiology provides the following important guidelines for hearing development in children.

How Do I Know If My Child Can Hear Me?

By watching your child’s responses to your voice and the sounds in their environment, and monitoring speech-language development you can get a good idea of how well your child can hear you. Here are some hearing milestones to consider:

0 – 3 Months

Your newborn should:

  • recognize your voice and quiet down when spoken to
  • stir or awaken when sleeping quietly and someone talks or there is a sudden noise
  • respond to sound by starting, blinking, crying, quieting, or with a change in breathing

4 – 6 Months

Your baby should:

  • recognize familiar voices and quiet when spoken to
  • babble for attention and use vocal play
  • turn his head toward voices and interesting sounds
  • enjoy musical toys or toys that make noise
  • stir or awaken when sleeping quietly and someone talks or there is a sudden noise

7 12 Months

Your baby should:

  • enjoy musical or noise-making toys
  • understand “no” and “bye-bye”
  • imitate speech sounds
  • directly turn to a sound nearby
  • make four or more speech sounds
  • add gesture to her communication

12 – 18 Months

Your baby should:

  • sometimes startle to sudden loud noises
  • turn directly to sounds nearby
  • follow simple directions (e.g. go get your coat)
  • use single words (they may not be clearly pronounced but they are clearly meaningful)

18 – 24 Months

Your toddler should:

  • use 2-3 word sentences
  • follow simple instructions (e.g. go get your book)
  • use her own name
  • have a vocabulary of 50-250 word (about 40-50 word spoken but many more understood)
  • point to body parts when asked

By 24 Months

Your child should:

  • have a vocabulary of 200-300 words, used in simple sentences
  • have speech that is understandable to adults not in daily contact with your child
  • be able to sit and listen to story books

Over 24 Months

Your child should:

  • have speech that is understandable to adults not in daily contact with your child
  • be alert to environmental sounds
  • respond to someone talking out-of-view (particularly when there are no distractions)
  • respond to voices on the telephone
  • show consistent growth in vocabulary and use words to communicate

There are many things you can do to monitor and encourage your child’s speech-language development:

  • Talk to your baby. It is important to talk to your baby through all your daily activities such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and playing.
  • Use your baby’s name and be consistent with the name you use.
  • Respond to the sounds your child makes.
  • Sing to your baby as you play or snuggle for quiet time.
  • Talk to your baby during daily activities and name the objects she contacts.
  • Read colourful books together and talk about the pictures.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes.
  • Make fun sounds to see if she will imitate you.
  • Listen to your baby. Make eye contact and respond to the sounds she makes.
  • Play games with your baby such as pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo.

As your child gets older, speak simply and clearly during daily activities about what you are doing. Listen and respond to your child’s speech. Read to your child daily. If your older child shows any of the following signs, he may be experiencing a hearing loss.

Your child:

  • intently watches the face of the person speaking
  • uses “what?” or “huh?” frequently
  • has difficulty understanding speech in group activities
  • has difficulty hearing the television, radio, or music when others find it a comfortable loudness

A very important indication of hearing loss is the lack of, or delayed development, of your child’s speech and language. If you have any concerns about your child’s responses to sound, or speech-language development, you should discuss your concerns with your family doctor and request an assessment with one of our audiologists here at Living Sounds Hearing Centre.

Contact Living Sounds Hearing Centre today.

Natalie Huska, BC-HIS
Board Certified Hearing Instrument Sciences

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