Hearing impairment is prevalent in a significant proportion of newborns and young children. It often goes undetected till the child is older. However the ability of the child’s brain to adapt and learn new language is maximal in the first few years of life. Delay in identification and thus delay in correction of this hearing loss will lead to lack of stimulation in that child and affects overall development.
Intervention is vital during this very early time because the child learns and develops at the fastest rate during the first 3 years of life. It’s important not to miss out on this crucial part of your child’s development, as it may be more difficult to teach skills to your child as he or she gets older.
Special services Later in Life Decreased
Providing early intervention has been found to:-
- Decrease the need for special education services.
- Decrease the changes of being held back in school.
- Increase the chances of completing high school and attending college.
- Increase scores on achievement tests.
- Decrease anti-social and delinquent behaviours.
Hearing Screening :
Out of 1,000 babies, about two to four will have a serious hearing loss. Hearing is very important. Your baby needs to hear sounds to learn how to talk and learn about the world. Hearing is very important in the early months to prevent possible problems with language or schoolwork later on. A screening is a quick check to see if your baby hears.
Either your baby’s hearing may be screened before you leave the hospital, or, You will be told how to have your baby’s hearing screened close to your home.
If your baby is not born in a hospital, you should ask your doctor or clinic how to have your baby’s hearing checked. Every baby’s hearing should be checked as soon after birth as possible. If your baby has a hearing loss, the sooner you know it, the better.
What Causes Hearing Loss ?
Sometimes we don’t know what causes hearing loss in a baby. And sometimes it is caused by:
- Deafness that runs in families
- Medication during pregnancy
- Ear infections
- Other serious infections
How Your Baby’s Hearing Will Be Checked ?
Two hearing tests are used to screen babies. In both tests, no activity is required from your child other than lying still.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are performed to check the cochlear status especially outer hair cells. During this test, a sponge probe is placed into the ear canal. The ear is stimulated with sound, and outer hair cells generate low intensity sounds/OAE which is picked by the probe. These OAE found in everyone who hears normally. If there is no OAE, it could indicate a hearing loss..
Auditory brain stem response (ABR) tests check how the brain stem ( the part of the nerve that carries sound from the ear to the brain) and the brain respond to sound. During this test, your child wears earphones, and electrodes are placed on the head and ears. A mild sedative may be given to help keep your child calm and quiet during the test. The Audiologist sends sounds through the earphones and measures the electrical activity in your child’s brain when he or she should be hearing.
Check Your Child’s Hearing and Speech
Most babies will “pass” the hearing screening. This means that your baby is hearing now. Even if your baby “passes” the screening, it is still important to check your baby’s hearing often. The following checklist will help you keep track of your baby’s hearing as he or she grows. Good hearing helps babies do the things on this checklist.
Good Hearing Checklist
Birth to 3 Months
- Becomes quiet when around everyday voices or sounds.
- Reacts to loud sounds: baby startles, blinks, stops sucking, cries, or wakes up
- Makes soft sounds when awake : baby gurgles
3 to 6 Months
- Turns eyes or head toward sounds: voices,toys that make noise, a barking dog
- Starts to make speech-like sounds: “ga”, “ ooh”, “ba”, and p, b, m sounds
- Reacts to a change in your tone of voice
6 to 9 Months
- Responds to soft sounds, especially talking
- Responds to own name and looks when called
- Understands simple words: “no”, “bye-bye”, “juice”
- Babbles: “da da da”, “ma ma ma”, “ba ba ba”
9 to 12 Months
- Consistently responds to both soft and loud sounds
- Repeats single words and copies animals sounds
- Points to favourite toys or foods when asked
12 to 18 Months
- Uses 10 or more words
- Follows simple spoken directions: “ get the ball”
- Points to people, body parts or toys when asked
- “Bounces” to music
18 to 24 Months
- Uses 20 or more words
- Combines two or more words: “more juice”, “what’s that ?”
- Uses many different consounant sounds at the beginning of words : b,g,m
- Listens to simple stories and songs
2 to 3 years
- Uses sentences with two or three words
- At 2 years, the child’s speech is understood some of the time (25%-50%)
- At 3 years, the child’s speech is understood most of the time(50%-75%)
More Help For Your Baby
If your baby has a hearing loss, or may have a hearing loss, you might need more help. Infants, toddlers with special needs, and their families may get help from Asha Kiran Speech & Language Habilitation Center D-46 Kashyap Path, Near Tamanna Park, Janpath, Shyam Nagar Extension, Sodala, Jaipur- Rajasthan, MOB:- 9829068155 who offers hearing screening and testing , and support for you, your baby, and your family.
If a child has a hearing loss, can hearing be improved ?
A variety of assistive devices and strategies are helpful to children who are hard-of-hearing.
Hearing aids are instruments that make sounds louder. They are worn in or behind the ear and come in several different shapes and sizes. Hearing aids can be used for varying degrees of hearing loss, moderate or severe. An audiologist will fit a hearing aid that will work best for your child’s hearing loss.
Cochlear Implants have three parts: a headpiece, a speech processor, and a receiver (Internal Implant). The headpiece is worn just behind the ear where it picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor. The speech processor, a device that can fit in a pocket or on a belt, or behind the ear converts the sound into a special signal that is sent to the receiver. The receiver, a small round disc about the size of a quarter that a surgeon has placed under the skin behind one ear, sends a sound signal to the brain.
Not all children who have hearing loss should get cochlear implants. Doctors and hearing experts think they’re best for children who have a profound hearing loss and won’t benefit from hearing aids.
As children get older, many other devices are available to help them hear. Some devices help children hear better in a classroom. Other make talking on the phone or watching television easier. For example, auditory training systems and loop systems can help eliminate or lower other noises and make it easier for your child to hear someone in a crowded room or group setting. Other , such as FM systems and personal amplifiers, are better for one-on-one conversations.