Hearing Loss and Speech in Children


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The Effects of Loss of Hearing on Your Child’s Speech

Nearly 28 million Americans including about 1 million children have some level of “reduced hearing”, varying from severely deaf to several stages of “progressive loss of hearing”.

The level of this problem generally is determined by how much sound volume your child can hear without amplification. Normally, it is categorized as slight or borderline, moderate, mild, profound or severe. The word "deaf" applies usually to a child whose loss of hearing is so massive that your child cannot effectively communicate with others using his or her voice only.

Hearing loss is not often detected until your child is between two to four years 4 years old because the vital stage for language or speech development is generally from birth up to three years of age; failure to recognize hearing loss when your child is still young can have major implications for your child's speech.

How distinctly your child can understand speech relies on the configuration and degree of “hearing loss”.

It is already well distinguished that a child’s hearing capability is critical to language and speech development, learning and communication. Children having difficulties in listening due to loss of hearing or auditory processing defects remain to be an under acknowledged as well as underserved population.

It is important to note that the earlier loss of hearing occurs in your child's life, so the more severe its effects on your child's speech development. Likewise, the earlier your child’s problem is recognized and intervention is started, the less severe is the ultimate impact.

Here are four major effects of hearing loss in children:

• It is the cause of expressive and receptive expressive communication delay.

• The language shortage causes learning difficulties that produces less academic achievement.

• Communication difficulties lead often to poor self-concept and social isolation.

• It can have an influence on career choices.

On speech

1. Children who suffer from hearing loss often cannot hear “silent” speech sounds like "sh," "s," "t," "k," and "f" and consequently do not incorporate these sounds in their “speech”; therefore their speech can be affected and is hard to understand.

2. Children who suffer from hearing loss can not usually hear their “own voices” when they are talking. They either may talk too loud or too softly. They usually have a too high pitch speaking sound. They often mumble due to poor inflection, poor stress or poor speaking rate.

On sentence structure

1. Children having hearing difficulties or loss grasp and create simpler and shorter sentences compared to other children without hearing difficulties.

2. They generally have a hard time writing and understanding complex sentences.

3. They usually cannot hear words ending in “ed” or “s”, most often leading to miscommunications and misusage of pluralization, verb tense, non-agreement of verb and subject as well as possessives.

It is significant to diagnose hearing loss in children as soon as possible so as to lessen speech deficiencies. Early awareness of the symptoms and signs of childhood hearing loss leads to early detection as well as treatment. Consult your doctor if:

• Even loud noises never frighten or alarm your baby at the age of 4 months or when your child never turns towards the sound source.

• Your child only notices you when he sees you.

• Your child never experiments with sounds but only gargles.

• At one year old, your child’s speech is either difficult to understand or delayed. Single words like "mama" or “dad” are not yet spoken.

• Your child always never responds when called.

• Your child has difficulty holding steady his head.

• Your child can not sit up without support or walking progress is considerably slow.

• Your child listens to the radio or T.V. very higher volume.

• Your child often sits too closely to the T.V. even when the there is enough volume can be heard by others in the same room.

• Your child asks often to repeat what you have said.

• Your child has a hard time dealing with school works.

• Being inattentive.

• Your child often complains of blocked ears or difficulty hearing.

Recent studies indicate that children diagnosed with hearing loss and who start services or therapy early are capable of developing language, be it signed or spoken on a similar level with their normal hearing peers.

Your audiologist as one of your interdisciplinary team or panel of professionals will assess your child then recommend the most suitable audiologic program of intervention.

What are Ear & hearing loss problems ?

Your ear is divided into three major components: the inner ear, the middle ear, and the outer ear. The outer ear is what is physically seen in our bodies. The ear canal is the path where the sound waves pass through.

It is also seen from the outside. The ear canal acts like a funnel catching the sound waves and lead them to the eardrum.

The middle ear is where the eardrum is located. It is actually a small space inside the ear filled with air. In the middle ear, there are three tiny bones. Collectively, they are called the ossicles.

Individually, there are the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup. From the outer ear, sound is directed to the eardrum. Now on the eardrum, these bones move in tune with the sound that passes on the vibration toward a much smaller part of the ear, the cochlea.

The cochlea is already part of the inner ear. It has fluid in it, which, in turn, moves the hairs on the outside of the cells. Several of these hair cells create an electrical impulse that is send with the auditory nerve directly to the brain.
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