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Hearing Loss

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Dear Debi,
My 1-year-old son has had multiple ear infections. I’ve started noticing that he watches my mouth as I talk to him. He tries to talk but it sounds like gibberish. Could this be a sign of a hearing problem?
Brian Pope
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Look for the warning signs
  • Contact your pediatrician immediately
  • Early intervention critical
Expert Advice
Rosalie Saxman
Rosalie Saxman
Audiologist
There are three types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is usually a middle ear problem or a blockage in the outer ear canal and is medically treatable. Sensory neural hearing loss is when the inner ear is affected and is usually treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants. There is also mixed hearing loss in which the loss could be sensory neural and conductive.

There are many causes for hearing loss. Some can be hereditary: for example, if there is some abnormality in the formation of the ear. Also there can be multiple ear infections or a high fever that causes some damage to the middle ear. Regardless, infant hearing screenings should be done.

There are signs that parents should be watching for to see if their child has a potential hearing problem:
  • The child does not notice you until the child sees you.
  • The child used to babble, but now they’ve stopped babbling.
  • You can’t understand what they’re saying once they’ve reached the age when they should be saying words.
  • The child doesn’t don’t pay attention to sound or the source of sounds
If you suspect that your child may have a hearing problem, you should see a pediatrician who can then refer you to an audiologist. You can go to your local school district and request for a test be done. School districts can also refer you to specific agencies for children under the age of three that can then take you through the process of determining whether your child has a loss of hearing and the steps thereafter.

Most types of hearing loss are treatable in some way, whether medically or through amplification, such as hearing aids. Even if your child is diagnosed with total hearing loss, through early intervention that child can begin to learn sign language and other techniques that will improve their quality of life.

The earlier you get intervention, the earlier you can improve your child’s quality of life and the less catching up they’ll have to do. If a child isn’t diagnosed until the age of five, that’s five years of not hearing.
Child Care Provider Comments
Sonia Morreale
Sonia Morreale
Mother of one
My son has been in preschool since he was 18 months. I began by taking him to a small program really close to the house. Later I learned about other programs, such as the John Tracy Clinic, that specialize in children with hearing loss. Right now, my son has speech therapy once a week. He attends a regular preschool. He received a cochlear implant two and half years ago which enables him to hear. His receptive language is pretty much caught up to hearing peers. He has a little more trouble with his expressive language.
Janis Sanders
Janis Sanders
Grandmother of four
My grandson Trent is 3-years old. From an early age we noticed that he did not respond to verbal commands. Trying to get his attention was very hard. We thought that he was just being stubborn. Then realized that maybe he was not hearing us. We tried a lot of different things to see what the problem was. The doctors eventually confirmed that he did have a loss in hearing.
Cindy Woodmansee
Cindy Woodmansee
Mother of eight
My child has multiple ear infections. There was a build-up of fluid in the inner ear, and the doctors drained the fluid out so the child could hear. I started teaching them sign language at an early age, around 6 months. Very simple signs, so they could communicate their needs.

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"Name That Sound" Game
Hearing Loss Featured Video:
Hearing Loss
Topic: Special Needs
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Resources
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
1-800-638-8255
 
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