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Although newborn hearing screening helps us to diagnose hearing loss at birth, many times hearing loss can happen later in the child’s development. It’s important for parents and family members to be aware of the signs that your child is not hearing normally. Here are some of the behaviors to look for if your child is not hearing well.
Delayed speech and language: Children learn language by listening to the people around them and emulating what they hear. If they are unable to hear the different sounds of speech normally, they will be slower to learn sounds and words. Talk to your pediatrician or audiologist if you have concerns about your child’s language development.
To be sure your child is achieving the normal speech and language milestones expected for his age group, refer to this site for more information.
Saying “what” all the time: Hearing loss causes us to miss some of the softer consonant sounds of speech which make it difficult to tell words apart. Children that are missing speech sounds may ask parents or teachers to repeat what they’ve said or may repeat things back to others incorrectly.
Not startling or localizing to environmental sounds: If your baby doesn’t startle when a door slams shut, doesn’t seem to notice a dog barking, or doesn’t respond to voices or music in their environment, there may be some cause for concern.
Difficulties in school: Children that aren’t able to hear well will have difficulty in a classroom environment, especially one with an open floor plan, group (“pod”) classroom design, or if they are sitting far away from the teacher. Background noise situations, like the cafeteria, gym class or during classroom group work, are usually very challenging for children with hearing loss. Lower grades in reading or phonetics may also indicate a problem. If your child complains of difficulties hearing in certain classes or if the child’s teacher voices concerns, it’s a good idea to get the child’s hearing checked out.
Intuition: A parent’s intuition that something is wrong should never be disregarded. You know your child the best out of everyone. If you notice that your child seems to speak and sound different from other kids, alerts unusually to environmental sounds, seems disconnected from conversation or doesn’t seem to be responding well to simple requests, have your child’s hearing evaluated. It’s far better to have things evaluated now and find out hearing is normal than to wait and discover hearing loss later.
Note: Keep in mind that there can be other reasons unrelated to hearing loss for some of the behaviors above. For example, children may have delayed speech and language with perfectly normal hearing, or may have a learning disability that might be impacting academic progress. It’s always better to have a professional evaluate your child to rule out hearing loss as the cause of these issues.
For more information on signs and symptoms of hearing loss, click here.