Hearing loss can happen at all ages, even in small children. But it’s important to remember that children with hearing loss are not broken or incomplete. They’re just different, and there is nothing wrong with that.
We understand that many parents may worry when their child shows signs of hearing loss, as they may fear the challenges their children may face in the future. But children with hearing loss can still have the capacity to live a full and happy life with a bright future. What’s important is to be aware of their condition as soon as possible to make the accommodations that will allow them to grow and develop in the right environment.
Why You Need to Test Your Baby’s Hearing Early
In Australia, every newborn child is offered a hearing test that is quick and painless. Since hearing loss is often unnoticeable in a newborn’s first few weeks of life, the hearing test helps diagnose hearing loss in babies.
Without administering a hearing test, it may take 1-3 years before a child’s hearing loss can be diagnosed. You want to prevent waiting that long since these years are crucial for speech and language development. Without diagnosing a baby’s hearing loss at the early stages, the child may be at higher risk of delays and impairments in terms of language, academics and social skills.
Stages of Child Hearing and Speech Development
To fully understand what your child may be missing in the 1-3 years of undiagnosed hearing loss, we’ll briefly examine the individual stages of a child’s hearing and speech development. Here are the milestones you can expect your child to reach in certain periods of their life.
- 8 Weeks
The first signs of hearing development in a child begin to show at around eight weeks of life. At this age, they may get startled by sudden noises. They may demonstrate this by widening their eyes or stirring, and even waking up from sleep.
- 8 Weeks to 12 Months
From eight weeks to four months, the child begins to look at the direction of any sound they may hear. And by 12 months of age, they will likely turn their heads towards familiar sounds, including voices. They will also start to babble at this stage.
- 18 to 24 Months
When they reach 18 months, the child will be able to know the names of some familiar things. They may also imitate sounds and simple words. From 18 to 24 months, they’ll form a small vocabulary consisting of single words. They are also capable of understanding simple directions at this age.
- 2 ½ to 3 ½ Years Old
And when they’re two and a half to three and a half years old, they should demonstrate clear speech and good vocabulary.
Common Signs of Hearing Loss in Children
Having trouble reaching the milestones in the different hearing and speech development stages isn’t the only thing to look for. After all, it is pretty common for some children to encounter minor delays in the different stages, but many end up catching up sooner or later. While there are many signs that may indicate a hearing loss in children, here are some of the more common ones.
- Not responding when called
- Appearing inattentive
- Pronouncing words incorrectly
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Difficult locating the source of a sound
- Trouble hearing from a distance
- Complaining of a ringing sound in the ears
- Speaking too softly or loudly
- Difficult differentiating between sounds
- Looking intensely or concentrating when someone is speaking to them
- Frequently needing instructions to be repeated
- Turning one ear forward when listening
While it may be concerning at first to have your child diagnosed with hearing loss, knowing sooner than later can help them with their development. When a child’s hearing loss goes undiagnosed, they can miss out on precious time for development and end up struggling socially and academically. You want to go with the approach that will be best for your child’s development and uplift them instead of putting them down. With the proper tools and help, they can grow to be confident and well-developed individuals.
If your child shows signs of hearing loss, CH Care can provide your child with the hearing services they need. We provide free children’s hearing health solutions at the Mildura Base Public Hospital. All you need is a referral from your GP, Maternal and Child Health Nurse, Speech Pathologist, School Nurses, ENT or Paediatrician. Book an appointment today!