9 things you may not know about hearing loss in children
April 27, 2020
1. A child who has passed the newborn hearing test should have their hearing tested regularly throughout their school years
Hearing loss can develop at any time, yet for some reason, we deem the newborn hearing test a free pass to a lifetime of perfect hearing.
This is, unfortunately, not the case and many children will go through school with an undetected hearing loss because they have not been retested since birth. Ideally, children should be tested regularly throughout their school years to ensure they are not suffering from any form of hearing loss.
2. Just because a child has a hearing loss, doesn’t mean that they can’t hear at all
This is a common misconception about hearing loss in general, but in fact, not only does the severity of a hearing loss vary, there are many different types of hearing loss and these require different treatment. So, while you may think that your child doesn’t have any hearing issues because they’re responding to most or all things, they could very well be hiding a hearing loss. They may even have enough hearing to respond and interact with you at home, but not enough to participate to their full potential in louder environments such as the classroom.
3. A child with a hearing loss can develop their speech to a high standard
Speech pathologists and audiologists work hard to support those children affected by hearing loss to reach speech milestones.
A speech pathologist will help your child with speaking, listening, writing, understanding language, reading, social skills, and general communication.
If you want to learn more, there are some great paediatric ‘speechies’ and audiologists that showcase their work and give parents tips on Instagram such as MrsSpeechieP, and peadiatric audiologist ListenWithLindsay.
4. The earlier a hearing loss is detected, the better chance a child has of developing at the same rate as their hearing peers
Identifying and treating a hearing loss will give your child the best opportunity to learn in a noisy classroom.
Studies show that children who receive early intervention can develop academically at the same rate as their hearing peers, and the earlier the intervention, the better. The later a hearing loss is identified, the more language development is delayed, resulting in lower language outcomes. What we can take from this is that it’s never too late to check a child’s hearing again and intervene, because a delay in testing will only slow their development further.
According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, a child with mild to moderate hearing loss who doesn’t receive intervention is likely to be behind their peers by one to four grade levels.
Early intervention can consist of regular audiologist appointments, speech development therapy, and support from a deaf educator. Some great organisations such as Hear For You, RIDBC, and The Shepherd Centre provide exceptional early intervention services.
5. It’s never too late to test your child’s hearing and get treatment
It may be fear, lack of time, or thinking it’s ‘too late’ but parents often fail to follow up on suspicions that their children have a hearing issue. But it’s never too late and in fact, ANY time that a child’s hearing loss is identified is beneficial.
No matter what age your child is if they have a hearing loss that is identified, and aid is provided or treatment delivered, it will have a positive impact on their education, learning, mental wellbeing, and social life.
6. If your child responds to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have a hearing issue
Children are masters of disguise when it comes to hearing loss. Often, they develop skills to make up for their loss of hearing, like lip-reading or collaborating with others.
Sometimes a child may only have a minor hearing issue, which means that it is not obvious, particularly at home; however, even mild hearing issues are detrimental to a person’s health and wellbeing.
7. Undetected hearing issues impact a child’s mental health and self-image
Undetected hearing issues can impact a child’s self-concept and self-esteem because of the communication gaps created by hearing loss that may lead to social isolation and barriers in communication development.
A child with an undetected hearing loss may struggle to communicate in a noisy playground and fail to learn in a noisy classroom. This can result in social isolation and academic delays which all lead to the child feeling bad about themselves.
A hearing loss can make it significantly more difficult for a child to communicate, play, and interact with others. A child who has an undetected and untreated hearing loss may feel alone, struggle to make friends, and ultimately be unhappy with school.
All of these issues – behaviour, mental health, learning, and social struggle – can impact a child’s behaviour and development. For a more detailed look at the impact of hearing loss on a child’s development, click here.
8. A hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as a behavioural issue or learning disorder
Parents and teachers have remarked on personality changes and improvements in their child after they have been treated and supported for hearing loss.
Many parents report positive behaviour changes in their children after they are fitted with hearing technology. Often a child that seems naughty or aloof, is actually unable to hear. We recently spoke to a mother about her experience with her daughter’s hearing loss. Lauren said she immediately saw changes in her daughter, and her daughter commented on all the sounds we take for granted.
It’s worth considering: misbehaviour at home and in class can often be misdiagnosed as a behavioural disorder like ADHD. It can also be put down to the child being naughty, unwilling to learn, disruptive, and inattentive.
9. Sign language and hearing technology combined, known as bilingual communication, give a child a great opportunity for communication
Hearing aids give a child access to speech sounds, where sign language is a great communication method for when a child cannot use their hearing aids or is communicating with other people who sign or media that includes sign translations
Read mother Morgan Snook’s article on Hearing Like Me where she talks about why she chose bilingual communication for her daughter and how it supports her. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”
Test your child’s hearing today in 8 minutes, download the government-funded Sound Scouts app here