May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Most children hear and listen to sounds from birth and learn to talk by imitating voices of their parents and caregivers. This is not true for all children, as some are born deaf or hard-of hearing. Some children lose their hearing later during childhood and will need to learn speech and language differently. It is important to detect deafness or hearing loss as early as possible. In order to do so, universal newborn hearing screening programs currently operate in all U.S. states, as a result, babies almost always have their hearing tested before they even leave the hospital.
Is it important to have my baby’s hearing screened early?
The most important time for a child to learn language is in the first 3 years. The earlier you know about a child’s hearing loss, the sooner you can make sure your child benefits from strategies that will help him or her learn to successfully communicate.
How can I recognize hearing loss later in childhood?
Even though screening tests are designed to detect hearing loss as early as possible, some children may not develop hearing loss until later in childhood. This means that, even if your baby has passed the hearing screening, you should still
continue to make sure that he or she is hearing well.
Caution signs an underlining communication problem if your child:
- Your child began talking later than expected
- Your child is unable to perform the developmental milestones for their age
- Your child has difficulty learning to read
- They cannot seem to express his/her thoughts and ideas
- Has problems understanding other and following directions
- Doesn’t pick up on social cues
- Says “Huh?” or “What?” and needs things repeated often
- They do not consistently respond to sounds
Tips for protecting your child’s ears
- Avoid loud, noisy areas/activities. Ex: lawn mowers, fireworks, loud music. Avoid sounds above 85 decibels
- Wear earplugs, earmuffs, or other hearing protection devices when involved in a loud activity.
- Be alert to hazardous noise in the environment. Ex: sirens or heavy machinery.
- Protect the ears of children who are too young to protect their own.
This month provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing.
- Information from the American