Have you noticed that your child isn’t reacting appropriately to sounds or verbal instructions?
Do they have trouble with locating the source of various sounds and noises?
If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, your child may be hard of hearing or deaf.
Without intervention, your hard of hearing or deaf child may experience:
- Difficulty learning speech and language skills
- Difficulty learning in school
- Poor self esteem and confidence
- Poor social skills and difficulty making friends
Fortunately, there is help.
Deaf and hard of hearing children can greatly benefit from early intervention with a speech therapist.
Keep reading to learn more about how hearing impairments work and how speech therapy near me can help.
But for now, let’s take a closer look at how hearing impairments work.
What Is A Hearing Impairment?
Hearing impairment is an umbrella term used to describe various hearing problems.
These problems can range from mild to severe.
For instance, a child who is mildly hard of hearing may be incapable of hearing certain sounds but still capable of understanding the general gist of a conversation.
On the other hand, a child who is more profoundly hard of hearing may be incapable of hearing any sound at all.
Deafness refers to the most profound form of hearing loss.
In the past, it was considered rude to refer to someone as deaf, and “hearing impaired” was the preferred language.
However, that’s no longer the case.
According to the National Association For The Deaf, the phrase “hearing impaired” focuses on what they can’t do, establishes hearing as the default, and implies that deafness is something that needs to be fixed.
Instead, the community broadly prefers to be referred to as deaf or hard of hearing, which is how we will proceed in this article.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Numerous conditions may contribute to hearing loss in children.
Some children are born with hearing loss.
Hearing loss that’s present at birth may be caused by numerous factors, including:
- Genetic predisposition
- Medical conditions during pregnancy, such as diabetes or preeclampsia
- Poor prenatal care
- Premature birth
Other times, hearing loss can develop after birth due to illness or injury, such as middle ear infections, meningitis, and measles.
Hearing loss also overlaps with autism spectrum disorder.
A 2013 study by Kancherla, Braun, and Yeargin-Allsopp found that between four and nine percent of autistic children are also hard of hearing, when compared with about one percent for the general population.
The reason for this is not currently known.
How To Tell If Your Child Is Hard Of Hearing Or Deaf
If you suspect that your child is hard of hearing or deaf, consult a pediatrician to have your child’s hearing tested.
Your pediatrician may refer you to an audiologist for further evaluation.
An audiologist can monitor your child’s brain waves to test whether they are hearing sounds.
While it is important to seek expert help if you suspect your child is deaf or hard of hearing, you can also do some informal at home testing.
Try standing behind your child while they are distracted and making noise to see if they react to it.
It’s important to note, though, that if your child has sensory processing disorder, it may also appear as though they are hard of hearing.
That’s why it’s important to get tested.
Does Hearing Loss Affect Language Development?
Several factors can impact language development in deaf or hard of hearing children.
For instance, children with high frequency hearing loss may struggle to hear common sounds in the English language, such as sh or th.
Since they don’t hear these sounds, hard of hearing children often don’t know how to pronounce certain words, making their speech difficult to understand.
Similarly, children who are deaf often struggle to learn how spoken language sounds, since they’ve never heard it.
Therefore, children with profound hearing loss need to be exposed to other forms of language, such as sign language or other forms of AAC, to help build their communication skills and prevent the loss of their ability to learn language.
Speech Therapy For Hearing Loss In Children
Speech therapy offers many different therapeutic approaches for deaf and hard of hearing children.
Your child’s speech therapist will go over the pros and cons of each approach to help you make the best choice for you and your child.
Regardless of the approach you choose, early intervention is key.
Speech therapy for children with hearing loss can begin as early as 6 months of age.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most common speech therapy approaches for children with hearing loss.
1. Teaching Communication Skills (Speech Or Sign Language)
Communication skills can be taught to deaf and hard of hearing children in multiple ways.
For instance, the auditory verbal approach utilizes whatever hearing your child has left to teach listening and speaking skills.
This approach requires your child to be capable of hearing at least some sounds.
On the other hand, some parents choose to teach their child sign language exclusively.
This approach is mostly popular amongst the deaf community.
Most commonly, a speech therapist uses a combination of the two approaches.
For this approach, deaf and hard of hearing children are taught to conduct all conversations in sign and spoken language simultaneously.
2. Using A Hearing Aid If Necessary
If your child is hard of hearing but not fully deaf, they may benefit from hearing amplification devices, such as hearing aids.
Hearing aids can be fitted as early as 2 to 4 weeks of age.
Your child’s speech therapist can help them learn how to communicate with the help of their hearing aids.
3. Other Solutions
Numerous other options are available for children with hearing loss.
For example, cochlear implants are electronic devices that can be surgically implanted to allow deaf children to hear.
Another example is auditory based speech therapy, which focuses on developing the listening and lip reading skills in hard of hearing children.
Your child’s speech therapist can help you decide on the best solution for you and your child.
Book Your Appointment With New Horizons Wellness Services Today
At New Horizons Wellness Services, we provide a variety of solutions for deaf and hard of hearing children.
Our expert speech therapists can help your child maximize their hearing abilities in order to lead healthy, happy lives.
If you’d like to learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Book your appointment with New Horizons Wellness Services today to get started.
Yours in Health,New Horizons Wellness Services
13333 SW 68th Pkwy,
Tigard, OR 97223
New Horizons Wellness Services provides a true multidisciplinary approach to mental & physical health treatments for children, adults and families.