A parent finding out his child has a hearing loss can be a devastating diagnosis. Approximately 3 in 1000 newborns are born with a significant hearing loss and many others have milder forms. It is estimated 15% of children between 6 and 19 have a measurable hearing loss in at least one ear. With the implementation of newborn hearing screenings, professionals are catching these babies early. Newborn hearing screens, like auditory brainstem response (ABR) Richardson TX Speech Therapy can reduce delays due to hearing lossand otoacoustic emissions (OAE’s) are not perfect however and parents should always monitor their child’s development in listening, language, and speech. Early intervention is crucial for children with hearing loss. Speech and language therapy can help these children close the gap in their development that has formed from not hearing well. Not every hearing loss is the same, and it can range from very mild to profound.

Speech Delays and Hearing Loss – What to do?One of the most common forms of hearing loss in children results from otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear, often with fluid present). Children with a history of otitis media episodes (ear infections) are at risk for having a speech and language delay or disorder.

Congenital and acquired causes of hearing loss are less common, but can have a significant impact on a child’s development as well. Genetic factors or non-heredity conditions, such as viruses and infections, in pregnancy or shortly after birth can cause hearing loss. Acquired causes can result from damage, injury, or disease after a child is born. Hearing loss can also occur as a side effect of some life-saving medications.

Parents should be aware of the signs of hearing loss and seek an audiological evaluation is they see these signs:

  • Delays in development
  • History of ear infections
  • Not responding to name
  • Difficulty locating a sound
  • Intently watching a speaker’s face
  • Sitting close to TV or with volume turned very high
  • Frequently asking for repetition or asking, “What?” “huh?”
  • Difficulty attending or listening
  • Behavioral or learning challenges

Hearing loss can result in a speech and language delay or disorder. Articulation and phonological disorders are common in children with hearing loss. They can delete sounds from the initial or final positions of words as a result of not hearing certain sound frequencies. They can also have sound substitutions that do not occur in typical development. It is also not uncommon for children with hearing loss to have voice disorders. They can speak with a volume that is too loud or too quiet. They might have difficulty regulating their voice volume, and they may also have difficulty with vocal resonance. Expressive and receptive language disorders are common in children with hearing loss and can range from a mild delay to a significant mixed expressive and receptive language disorder in which they have difficulty understanding spoken communication and using it functionally. Delays in vocabulary, grammar, word order, and idiomatic expressions are very typical in this group of children. A skilled speech-language pathologist can help parents treat these conditions. Early intervention gives the child the best opportunity for success. While speech and language disorders are common in children with hearing loss, behavioral and learning disorders can also occur.

The best advice to give parents is to catch it early and seek an evaluation from a skilled professional. The earlier intervention begins the better the results the child will experience in closing his gaps in development and living up to his potential. Hearing loss can be treated either medically or with hearing aids, and it can have a huge positive impact a child’s overall development when it is treated early. Contact our clinic for more information regarding development or to schedule an evaluation.