Infants and children need to hear speech and language in order to learn it. Since they don’t know it, even slight hearing losses can significantly delay their speech and language development. Delayed speech and language development can have a significant impact upon your child's ability to learn to read, his/her educational success, and social and vocational opportunities and success.
If your child’s hearing loss can’t be corrected medically, your child will not hear all of the sounds in speech. The more severe the hearing loss, the less speech and language your child will be able to hear and learn.
Learning to hear is a process. Specific parts of our brains develop from infancy in response to receiving sound. Our brains grow in order to use that auditory information effectively. This is called Auditory Brain Development.
Hearing loss reduces the auditory information available to the infant’s developing brain. The earlier the hearing loss is identified, the sooner a child has amplification, the more consistently he/she wears the hearing aids, the more actively involved his/her parents are, the better his/her chances are to learn to use his residual hearing and develop good speech and language skills.
How well your child can learn to use amplified sound, depends on a number of things, including; type and degree of hearing loss, age when amplified, how consistently amplification is used, parental and family support and involvement, and early intervention and speech/language therapy.
Unlike glasses, hearing aids can not correct your child’s hearing loss. But they can amplify sound and speech, making it louder. If speech and sound can be amplified enough to exceed your child’s hearing loss, then your child has access to the sound and speech information and may be able to learn to use it. If a doctor tells you that hearing aids won't help your child hear, you may wish to get a second opinion or consult your audiologist.
There are different styles of hearing aids, but generally, the Behind-the-ear style (top left) is recommended for babies and young children. Especially in infancy, ears grow fast, and the earmolds may have to be replaced as often as every three months.
Ø Replacing earmolds used with Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids does not require that the child be without the hearing aid until the earmold is ready, unlike In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids which have to be returned to the manufacturer to be rebuilt/recased.
Ø It is far less expensive to replace an earmold than to recase an ITE.
Ø Ear molds can be made with soft materials to protect the child’s ear canal from injury when playing. ITE cases are generally hard shells.
Ø Infant ears are usually too small to provide enough space to make an ITE.
||This is a “common sounds audiogram” It shows the typical frequencies and intensities of both some environmental sounds and speech sounds. Plotting your child’s hearing results on this graph will give you a basic idea of what speech sounds and environmental sounds your child is hearing.