How can you help a child with hearing loss learn? Children with hearing loss face many challenges in school work and social life. You may have some of the same questions as parents, teachers, or other caregivers for children with hearing loss. The following answer to frequently asked questions will give you information about learning for hearing impaired children.
How do I know if my child has hearing loss?
A child’s inability to hear is usually first noticed by others, such as teachers or parents. Or, your child may say they don’t hear certain things or wish that sounds were “louder.” A comprehensive hearing evaluation is best conducted by an audiologist specializing in working with children and who has experience in hearing loss, such as a pediatric audiologist.
Hearing tests can be given at any age, but they should be done before a child starts school to get the most benefit from classroom learning. These tests should include an ear exam and a hearing test to check how well sound is heard and understood.
Your child may usually hear sometimes but miss sounds or words other times. How well your child hears depends on many factors: 1) how severe the hearing loss is; where it occurs (in the inner ear or along the nerve pathways); whether one or both ears are affected; whether your child has any additional health problems; the age at which hearing loss occurred; and how old your child is.
What causes my child’s hearing loss?
Hearing loss can happen because of many health conditions, such as meningitis, measles, scarlet fever, or even colds. Hearing loss often occurs in children due to heredity (which means it is passed down in families through genes). Every day more than three infants are born with permanent hearing loss. This may be caused by genetic problems like rubella (German measles), cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, or certain infections acquired just after birth that affects the inner ear. More common causes include:
- Prematurity and low birth weight.
- Exposure to high oxygen levels during delivery.
- Head injury or illnesses like meningitis or measles can affect the middle ear and lead to hearing loss.
What do I need to know about infant screening?
Every state requires that all newborn infants be screened for hearing loss as part of a routine Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS) test. If your child does not pass this initial screen, they may be referred for further testing, such as an auditory brainstem response (ABR) test, which measures how well the nerves going from the inner ear to the brain are working. This is often done before your baby leaves the hospital. If these tests show a permanent hearing loss (meaning that your child is likely to have hearing loss for the rest of their life), you will be referred to a team of professionals who can help you learn more about your child’s hearing loss and any other health issues. Some children may need treatment right away, such as oral (by mouth) steroids (medication).