Childhood Hearing Impairment

May 9, 2019
Childhood Hearing Impairment

This week’s tip on hearing impairment comes from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. It’s important that parents, caretakers, physicians, and teachers know the signs of and address hearing impairment in children because early hearing loss can affect their language development, communication skills, and have long-lasting effects if not treated. 

What are the possible causes for hearing loss in children?

Possible types can include congenital or acquired hearing loss as well as conductive, sensorineural or mixed hearing loss.  There are various causes for each condition. It is important to discuss any concerns with your pediatrician who can assess if your child is meeting important speech and hearing milestones. If you have concerns, a pediatric audiologist can perform an in depth exam.

 How would I know if my toddler or older child has hearing loss?

 Hearing loss may present in many different ways and can be hard to identify.  As we all know, there is a difference between “listening” and “hearing,” and it can be common to assume that a toddler or older child just isn’t listening, when in fact, they may have an undiagnosed hearing impairment.  As children enter the classroom, this can manifest as a sense that the child is inattentive or not paying attention to the teacher or other students.

Signs of Hearing Impairments in Children:

  • Child has difficulty following instructions
  • Asks for things to be repeated prior to answering or says “what”
  • Child isn’t meeting speech and language milestones
  • Child does not respond to their name when being called
  • Performs poorly in classes. Family and teachers may attribute this to not paying attention in class or having other developmental or cognitive delays.
  • Child looks intensely at the person speaking, as if concentrating. Often children with hearing loss are subconsciously relying on visual cues to help them understand when they are not hearing well
  • Child wants volume of TV or iPad, etc. louder than others in the family

If you notice any of the above, speak to your child’s pediatrician about a referral to an audiologist as soon as possible.  While screening tests done at the school and doctor’s office may catch a hearing loss, a full comprehensive audiogram by a trained hearing professional is the gold standard for detecting the type and amount of hearing loss.   While some kinds of hearing impairment may require hearing aids, other types of hearing loss may be treated with medication or surgery.  It is important to discover the type and severity of the hearing problem to make sure your child is getting the best, most appropriate treatment.

If you think your child or family member may have hearing loss and would like to schedule an evaluation please click here.

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