Parent Time

Hearing Impaired Children and Detection

Most hospitals now test for hearing impairment as soon as your baby is born, and follow up testing can be repeated at intervals throughout your child's life. If deafness runs in your family, you will want to be especially vigilant, because early detection means being able to take a proactive stance.

The sooner a hearing impairment is noticed, the sooner you can address it with training, surgery, hearing aids or other forms of assistance.

Your newborn will probably be tested by a professional before leaving the hospital, but if no one mentions the testing to you, ask to have it done. You can also check your child's hearing at home: deafness shows up in behavior. Here are some signs that your child is hearing normally: anytime you're worried about your child's hearing, have it tested.

Some situations that might be associated with a child being hard of hearing include having low birth weight, illness at birth, early use of antibiotics, damage to the skull or ear drum, or illness of the mother. A hearing screening can usually assure parents that their child's ears are functioning normally.

1. Your baby reacts to loud or sudden noises. He or she is startled when there is a loud sound.

2. Your baby at three months or more turns her head when you speak to her, looking for you. She can sometimes be calmed by your singing or talking with her.

3. Your baby babbles and coos, trying to talk. You can play games with her, imitating each other's sounds.

4. Your toddler talks, makes up words and tries to imitate the words you say. He listens to TV at normal volume, notices when the radio is on and looks for strange sounds. (If your toddler seems to have a speech delay or stops making progress at a certain point, see your doctor.)

What if my baby is hearing impaired?
You still have many options. Cochlear implants have restored normal hearing to some hearing impaired people. Modern hearing aids are effective and compact, so some people with hearing impairment can get back enough hearing to function normally. Even if your child is profoundly deaf, there are school that teach sign language, lip reading and even normal speech. There are hearing impaired people who have learned to lip read and speak so normally that others cannot tell they can't hear. There are support groups for parents and play groups for children. There will be challenges, but your child can still lead a normal, healthy and happy life.

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