Hearing loss in children

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The fact that a child suffers from hearing loss is a situation that we must take into account. Hearing loss in children hinders social interaction and the development of those who suffer from it, because all senses are essential to perceive and understand our environment. Among them, one of the most important is hearing, since it facilitates communication, which is why it is fundamental in the development of language stages.

Consequences of hearing loss in children

The most evident consequence of hearing loss in children is manifested through language. Language makes relationships possible, since it contains the shared meanings of society.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)In the case of hearing loss in children, more than 60% of the cases of hearing loss in children can be prevented and significantly alleviated.

According to La American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Other consequences of hearing loss, which occur in the development of communication skills, speech and language, include: 

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Hearing loss in children has negative effects on their intellectual development if not adequately treated.

  • Language impairment hinders learning and, as a result, decreases school performance.
  • Sometimes it can lead to social isolation and low self-esteem due to communication difficulties.
  • May interfere with career decisions as a result of poor academic performance

Hearing loss in children and its development

Hearing loss in children has general effects on the intellectual development of children. In the following, we will describe how to clearly identify them.

Vocabulary

Infants with hearing loss are slower to establish vocabulary. However, they learn concrete words such as jump, red, cat and five with greater dexterity, as opposed to abstract words such as before, jealous, equal to and after. The same is true for functional words such as a, of, he and what.

On the other hand, the difference in the vocabulary of children with normal hearing abilities and those with hearing impairment increases with age.

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The hearing health of our children is much more important during their development.

Children with hearing loss have difficulty understanding words with multiple meanings. For example, the word bank can mean a place to sit or a place where we keep money.

Therefore, they must be diagnosed and treated by hearing care professionals to alleviate the hearing loss as much as possible.

Sentence structure

Children with hearing loss understand and therefore construct shorter and simpler sentences than children with normal hearing. That is why they often also have difficulty understanding and writing compound sentences, such as those containing relative subordinate clauses (?The driver, who will take us to the park, is on his way) or sentences in passive voice (?The snacks were bought by the representatives?).

Speech

Often, speech sounds, such as ?s?, ?f?, ?t? and ?k?, are not heard by children with hearing loss, so they do not include them in their speech. As a result, it may be difficult to understand what is being expressed in speech by these children with hearing loss in minors.

Likewise, children with hearing loss may not hear their own voice when speaking. Therefore, they tend to speak too loudly or too softly.

Problems in social interaction

It is common for children with hearing loss to report feeling lonely, friendless and excluded at school, especially if there is little or no opportunity to socialize with other children with the same condition. 

Language development in the hearing impaired child

One of the capabilities that differentiates humans from animals is the ability to express thoughts, desires and emotions through words or shared signs.

This process of recognition in individuals who begin to form part of such an environment, especially in the first 3 years of life, is understood as stages of language development.

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During the language development of our children, their hearing is vital.

These stages are evidence for the hearing health professionalsThe child's hearing loss, which determines whether the child meets normal language development, or the opposite is true. Sometimes, children who do not reach these stages are due to a certain degree of hearing loss in minors.

It is possible to identify hearing loss in children at different stages of development by following these guidelines:

Prelinguistic stage (0 to 12 months)

  • Newborn to 3 months: at this stage, he recognizes the parents' voice and calms down when he hears it. If he is breast or bottle feeding and stops when he hears a sound, this means that he perceives them. Another sign of this stage is when they begin to babble, mumble or make sounds. 
  • From 4 to 6 months: The baby responds to changes in the parents' tone of voice, recognizes objects that make sounds, and babbles in different tones depending on mood.
  • From 7 months to 1 year: Understands common and simple words, for example, "mommy", "daddy" and "juice". Communicates with gestures and proto-conversations appear, such as proto-imperatives when the child wants something and expresses it with gestures and gaze; and proto-declaratives, when he/she expresses a feeling. In the first year, the child usually says one or two words such as "mommy", "daddy", "yes", "no" and "bye-bye".

Linguistic stage (from 12 months)

  • From 1 to 2 years: The child knows various body parts and can indicate them when asked. Follows simple commands and understands them. Enjoys songs, rhythms and stories. Puts two or more words together and asks simple questions such as "where is it" or "are you going".

First sentences stage (from 2 to 6 years old)

  • From 2 to 3 years: the infant uses words to express him/herself. Includes the sounds of ??s?? and ??f?? and ??g?? sounds. Recognizes and names objects to ask for them. 
  • From 3 to 4 years old: Begins to answer when asked "who", "what", "where", and "why". Comments and explains about what he/she does at school. Uses sentences with four or more words 
  • From 4 to 6 years old: Remains attentive in short stories and answers simple questions about them. Uses sentences with more than four words and includes details, listens to and understands most of what is said at home or at school.

Signs of hearing loss in children

Hearing difficulties can be detected and diagnosed by the following signs: 

  • Ear pain
  • Suppuration
  • Child does not respond to parent's call
  • Increased or decreased voice pitch
  • Need to turn up the volume or move closer to the television. Delayed speech development
  • Poor pronunciation
  • Low school performance
  • Tilt of the head to one side constant

Early detection of hearing loss in children helps to avoid problems in the future. That is why we should always include the fitting of hearing aids to mitigate the impact of the child's hearing impairment on his or her development, not only at school, but also socially and in the family.

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