Hearing Loss in Child
By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.
Approximately 1 out of every 1000 children in United States is born deaf. Many more are born with less severe degrees of hearing impairment, while others develop hearing impairment during childhood. Hearing impairment is a defect in the perception of sound by the brain.
The two major categories of hearing loss are:
- Neurological impairment, and
- Loss due to malfunction of the physical apparatus of the ear.
Reduced hearing acuity during infancy and early childhood interferes with the development of speech and language skills. Children suffering from partial hearing loss may find that the quality of their hearing varies from day to day or from one situation to another. For some children, hearing aids provide the help needed. For others, alternate communication strategies are required.
If you are concerned that your child might have partial or full hearing impairment, then you must check for the following signs: turning the ear towards sound, favoring one ear over the other, difficulty in following instructions, appear confused and preoccupied. Children with hearing loss often ask for repeated information and will sometimes mispronounce words. This is not an exhaustive list, and you must check with your pediatrician or family doctor who will recommend tests and screenings to detect hearing loss.
In children, hearing loss can lead to social isolation for a variety of reasons. They find it difficult to communicate as they have not been able to develop their language and speech skills.
The following are some suggestions to help you deal with a child suffering from hearing impairment:
- Reduce background noise, so that the child can concentrate on what is said.
- Face the child so that he/she can lip-read.
- Make sure that the room or area is well-lit.
- Speak normally, do not yell or over-gesticulate.
- Always clarify the instructions and directions before the child begins work on the subject matter. Make sure that your point is clearly conveyed across.
- Use visual aids as and when appropriate, like blackboards, transparencies, leaflets, etc.
- Use non-verbal cues like waving your arms or tapping the table to get the child's attention. However, do not overuse gestures while communicating to the child. It might distract the child. Besides, children do not like to be treated differently.
- Know how to care for hearing aids. Keep in mind that sand and dirt can cause problems for children who wear hearing aids.
- If appropriate, teach some sign language to other children in the daycare, the child's friends at school and in the neighborhood and to the relatives.
Remember, hearing impairment does not affect intelligence of a person.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.