How our children hear

A parent’s responsibility while raising children is a never-ending task. From their health to their education from their social skills to providing a nurturing and safe environment, there is so much to do!

One issue that is so often overlooked is how our children hear. Our hearing connects us to the world around us and it is only through the ears of a child that they learn how to speak and how to listen, develop social skills, and build relationships. At school, what they hear and what they listen to can propel them to a brilliant career or a life of manual labor.

The earlier hearing loss is diagnosed and treated the more chance the child has of successfully adapting to amplification and developing good speech and language skills as well as having healthy social relationships.

Some warning signs of hearing loss that parents can look out for are:

Birth – 2 years old

Chronic ear infections
Constant pulling or tugging at the ears
Not responding to loud noises around them
2 – 5 years old

Delayed speech development
Speech that is mushy and unclear
No response to being called by name
Excessively loud speech
5 – 12 years old

Slurring of speech
Excessive volume on TV or radio
Difficulty hearing in the car
Declining grades at school
Teens

Excessive volume levels in TV or speaking
Declining grades in school
Increased social isolation
Aggression
Any of the above red flags or a failed hearing test at school indicates the need for an in depth hearing exam. The hearing exam should include pure tone testing (hear the beep, hit the button) as well as speech testing. These tests can be performed by an audiologist or hearing aid specialist. Children under the age of 5 require specialized equipment and should be seen by a pediatric specialist.

Once a child has been diagnosed with hearing loss there are many questions that need to be answered. First, it is important to understand what type of hearing loss your child has. The two types are conductive and sensorineural.

Conductive hearing loss is a problem with the mechanics of the ear and may be temporary. For example, too much ear wax in the ear canal can block the sound from getting to the eardrum causing some hearing loss. Most conductive losses can be treated through an office procedure, medication or an operation.

Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and happens in the inner ear in the cochlea. Each cochlea has thousands of hair cells that send the hearing signal to the brain. If these hair cells are damaged or never form, there is no way for the sound waves to be transmitted (in part or in whole) to the brain. A Sensorineural loss will most often be treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids should be worn all waking hours and it will only take a couple of weeks for your child to adapt to this improved hearing. They will need you to cheer them on in their new sense of hearing as it will be different and difficult in the beginning. Once they have adapted to hearing they will appreciate the ease of hearing they receive from their devices.

In the case of deafness (no measure of hearing), cochlear implants and lip reading classes will be top on the list of treatments.

If your child has good hearing, it is important to keep their hearing healthy and to help them develop good listening habits. Ear level devices like I-Pods or MP3 players when used with headphones can be very detrimental to your child’s long-term hearing health. Teach the 60/60 rule: all ear level devices should be used at no more than 60% of the available volume for no more than 60 minutes. Never allow your child to sleep with devices in their ears.

If you have any questions about hearing or hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing.

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