Hearing Damage in Children
In a surprising fact, 1 in 6 infants are born with hearing loss in the United States. This frequency increases as children grow older due to added complications such as infections, head trauma, certain types of ototoxic medications, and even exposure to unsafe levels of noise.
Hearing loss is often viewed as a problem of the elderly, which is why hearing loss in children and infants often goes unnoticed and is often misconstrued as behavioral or academic problems. Sometimes what is often misdiagnosed as a learning disability or problems like ADHD may actually be a result of underlying hearing loss.
Parents may have a hard time accepting that their child may have hearing damage. By denying their child’s problem though, they make actually be increasing the hardships faced by their child. Even though they may be fearful of their child being subjected to bullying because of hearing aid use, the drawbacks of NOT seeking treatment for hearing loss at an early age is far worse.
Children who grow up with an untreated hearing loss have severe defects in developing language and communication skills. Their academic performance may also be lower due to their inability to hear, especially if their school does not have any teachers that are trained in American Sign Language.
Of course, there is a huge difference between having hearing loss and being deaf. Parents may jump to the conclusion that since their child has hearing loss their child is deaf and is completely unable to hear anything, which may be far from the truth. In reality, hearing loss varies in its severity and category. Some children may have difficulty in processing high pitched sounds while others may have trouble deciphering lower pitched sounds. Furthermore, hearing loss does not affect both ears in the same way. One of your child’s ears may have perfect hearing, while the other may be the only ear affected by hearing damage.
Various treatment methods are available for treating all the various types and intensities of hearing loss. Popular treatment methods include the use of hearing aids, but in cases of more severe hearing loss, surgery or cochlear implants may be recommended.
No matter the mode of treatment, early treatment is recommended. A child has their whole life ahead of them, and without learning language skills, they may have trouble communicating and understanding academic concepts for the rest of their life. Early treatment intervention is highly recommended when you see the first signs of hearing loss in your child. Pay attention to your child, especially if your child is behaving strangely lately.
If you find your child acting out, being disobedient or not paying attention in class, sit down and talk to them. Ask them about whether they are able to hear all the instructions in class clearly. Being understanding and having an open mind can go a long way in helping your child feel safe and valued enough to share their hearing problems with you.
Should your child share any hearing difficulty, make sure you get them screened for hearing loss. If their screening comes out positive, get their hearing examined by a hearing care professional. Your child’s hearing affects their whole life. Seek timely treatment to help them make the most out of all the opportunities that life throws their way.