As a parent, it’s important to be watching for possible signs of hearing loss or other health issues in your children. Even though you don’t want your child to experience these issues, identifying hearing loss in the earliest stages is the best solution to help them adapt.
The truth is that many children with mild or progressive hearing loss tend to adapt well in the home and school environments. They find ways to keep up with their peers, but even a small amount of hearing loss can take a toll on the child’s development.
How Hearing Loss Affects a Child’s Development
In the beginning, mild hearing loss doesn’t have much of an effect on a child’s development. Most children are able to keep up with the milestones for language and speech development. Everything seems normal in the early years.
But there are small nuances that the child can start missing, such as social cues or details they need in the classroom.
Untreated hearing loss can definitely take a toll over time. For example, it can cause developmental delays in both expressive and receptive communication skills. If there is any level of language deficit, then it can result in a domino effect that causes learning problems and academic issues.
These communication issues can also cause problems in social settings, sometimes leading to social isolation and even low self-esteem because the child struggles to engage with their friends and family.
As a parent, you can help your child by identifying the early signs of hearing loss, then take your child to see a specialist. This process can identify whether your child is experiencing hearing loss, the underlying cause, as well as potential treatments to help.
Signs of Hearing Loss in Infants and Toddlers
The most common signs of hearing loss vary depending on a child’s age. Here are some of the most common signs that could indicate potential hearing loss in an infant or toddler.
Delayed or absent speech development is the most obvious sign that your child might have hearing loss. If the child can’t hear language from family and friends, then they have a hard time with their own development. Make sure your child’s developmental rate is comparable with their peers who don’t have hearing loss.
- 3 Months: At this stage in development, a baby should be able to recognize your voice and they will be startled when there are loud noises in the area.
- 6 Months: Now, the baby can recognize familiar voices and speech sounds. They also turn their head towards sounds that are interesting. The baby starts using their own voice to communicate discomfort or pleasure and will even hold speech-like conversations with other people.
- 9 Months: At this point in development, the baby should be able to understand simple words, such as “no,” “bye-bye,” “mommy,” and “daddy.” The babbling starts sounding more speech-like with multiple syllables strung together.
- 12 Months: A toddler who is one year old should have at least one or more words that they can speak.
- 18 Months: Now the toddler should be able to understand words so they can point to body parts on demand, retrieve familiar objects with a voice prompt, and understand other simple phrases.
- 24 Months: The child’s vocabulary expands to between 200 – 300 words at this stage of life, and they are able to string together simple sentences.
Signs of Hearing Loss in Older Children
It becomes harder and harder to identify hearing loss in older children. At this point, they have developed speech skills and start to develop coping skills to compensate for hearing loss. But parents can still identify different signs of potential hearing loss in children of all ages.
- Inconsistent Responses: Sometimes the child is able to respond to your conversations. Other times, they don’t respond and there is no explanation why.
- TV and Music Volume: The child is always wanting to turn up the volume louder than what other members of the family prefer.
- Repeated Conversations: Pay attention if the child is often saying “huh?” or “what?” when other people are speaking to them, especially in noisy environments.
- Body Movements: If the child only has hearing loss in one ear, then they might turn the good ear forward when listening. Sometimes, a child might even say something about their “good ear.”
- Academic Performance: A drop in academic performance could be an indication that the child is having a hard time hearing or understanding in the classroom.
- Doesn’t Hear You: A child might tell you that they didn’t hear you. Some parents might assume that the child wasn’t paying attention, but the truth is that they didn’t hear what was being said.
- Voice Volume: Notice if the child is speaking louder than before. If they are having hearing loss, then it is common to increase vocal volume when they are talking to other people.
- Reading Lips: Does your child always look at you intently when you are speaking to them? Or, they might have a hard time understanding conversation if they are looking in another direction.
- Parent’s Intuition: Sometimes, parents just have a feeling that something is wrong. Even if you can’t put your finger on a specific behavior or symptom, it doesn’t hurt to take your child for a hearing test if you suspect hearing loss.
Schedule a Hearing Test for Your Child
It might seem like a devastating diagnosis to learn that your child has hearing loss. But the truth is that an accurate diagnosis is one the best things that you can do if your child is experiencing these issues.
When you schedule a consultation, our team will perform simple testing to determine whether hearing loss is happening. Then, additional testing can be done (if needed) to learn more about the child’s range of hearing and abilities.
If hearing loss is detected, then there are many ways that the child’s hearing can be supported to help with their education, development, social skills, and more. Hearing aid technology has come a long way over the years, offering a comfortable and effective way to amplify a child’s hearing so they can participate in society.
Talk to the Hearing Experts for Help
Even though there might be routine hearing screenings at school, these screenings don’t compare to the in-depth testing that can be done through an audiologist or ENT. If you are located in Collin County or Dallas, TX, then reach out to our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat to schedule a hearing test. We have offices in both Frisco and Plano, TX. Get started by filling out our online form when you are ready to request an appointment or call us at (972) 596-4005.