Did you know that 1 in 10 children in the United States has a hearing loss? That means more than 7.5 million children go to school every day with a hearing impairment. As if that isn't challenging enough, approximately 90 percent of these kids have some degree of hearing loss that makes it difficult for speech and language development. This is where speech therapy comes in – helping kids with hearing impairments overcome their communication barriers and improve their quality of life. Learn more about the impact of hearing loss in children and how speech therapy can help below.
In this article we will discuss:
The Impact of Hearing Loss in Children
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 15 percent of children aged 6-19 have degrees of hearing loss. This number has remained steady over the past few decades, despite advances in detection and intervention methods.
While it can have a significant impact on all aspects of a child's life, it is especially detrimental to their academic performance and socialization skills.
What is Hearing Loss?
It is defined as a decrease in the ability to hear. It can be either congenital hearing loss(present at birth) or acquired (happens later in life) . There are many different causes of hearing loss, including exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and viral infections. Hearing loss can also be a result of genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome.
Congenital and Acquired hearing loss
Congenital hearing loss is the most common type of hearing impairment in children. It occurs when there is a problem with the development of the ear, auditory nerve, or inner ear. Congenital hearing loss can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Learn to communicate effectively with hearing loss
Acquired hearing loss is less common in children, but can happen as a result of an ear infection, head injury, or exposure to loud noise.
There are two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the ear canal, eardrum, or ossicles (three tiny bones in the middle ear). This type of hearing loss is usually temporary and can be treated with surgery or medication.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type in children. It occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
There are three types of hearing loss: mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild: This is the most common type. It can make it difficult to hear soft sounds and follow conversations in noisy environments. Children with mild hearing loss cannot hear sounds that are quieter than 40 decibels (dB).
Moderate: This is more serious than mild hearing loss. It can make it difficult to understand speech, even in quiet environments. Children with moderate hearing loss cannot hear sounds that are quieter than 55 dB.
Severe: This is the most serious type of hearing loss. It can make it impossible to understand speech, even in quiet environments. Children with this degree of hearing loss cannot hear sounds that are quieter than 70 dB.
Profound: This is the most severe type of hearing loss. It can make it impossible to hear any sound at all. Children with profound hearing loss cannot hear sounds that are quieter than 90 dB.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The most common symptom is difficulty understanding speech. This is especially true in noisy environments, such as classrooms or playgrounds. Other symptoms include:
Trouble hearing soft sounds
Mumbling or slurred speech
Asking people to repeat themselves often
Withdrawing from social situations
Turning up the volume on TVs and radios
Frequently saying "huh?" or "what?"
Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many different causes of hearing loss, including exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and viral infections. It can also be a result of genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome.
Exposure to Loud Noise
One of the most common causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. This can happen when children are around loud appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and hair dryers. It can also happen when they are at loud events, such as concerts or sporting events. Prolonged exposure to noise can damage the delicate structures of the ear and lead to hearing loss.
Certain medications, such as antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can cause hearing loss. This is because they can damage the delicate structures of the ear.
It can also be caused by viral infections, such as meningitis and measles. These infections can damage the auditory nerve, which is responsible for carrying sound signals from the ear to the brain.
Some children are born with hearing loss. This can be due to genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome. It can also be caused by problems that occur during pregnancy, such as rubella or cytomegalovirus infection.
How can Hearing loss affect a child's life?
It can have a significant impact on all aspects of a child's life. It can affect their ability to learn, socialize, and communicate.
Research has shown that children with hearing loss are more likely to have difficulty in school. They are more likely to repeat a grade, be placed in special education classes, and have lower test scores than their peers. In addition, children with hearing loss are more likely to drop out of high school.
Children can have difficulty socializing with their peers. This is because they may not be able to hear or understand what other people are saying. As a result, they may withdraw from social situations.
Children may have difficulty communicating with their families and friends. This is because they may not be able to hear or understand what other people are saying. As a result, they may use alternative methods of communication, such as sign language or writing.
What to do if your child is diagnosed with Hearing loss?
If your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, there are a few things you can do to help them.
The first thing you should do is learn about hearing loss. This will help you understand what your child is going through and how you can best support them.
You should also find a support group for families of children with hearing loss. This will allow you to connect with other families who are going through similar experiences.
In addition, you should make sure your child gets the services they need. This may include speech therapy, hearing aids, or cochlear implants. Children with severe to profound hearing loss highly benefit from cochlear implants which can help them develop speech and language skills.
You can also encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports or music. This will help them socialize with their peers and develop their communication skills.
You should also advocate for your child. This means speaking up for their rights and making sure they have access to the resources they need.
How does Speech Therapy Help?
Speech therapy can help children improve their communication skills. Speech therapists provide services that help children develop and use their speech and language skills. Speech therapy can even assist teens, as children are never too old to begin services. These services may include:
Assessment of speech and language skills
Instruction in how to produce sounds
Instruction in how to use alternative methods of communication, such as sign language or writing
If your child has been diagnosed with a hearing impairment, speech therapy can be an invaluable resource. Pediatric SLPs are trained to work specifically with children. Speech therapists can help kids develop the skills they need to improve their communication abilities. This may include teaching them how to lip-read, use sign language, and/or improve their vocal production.
In addition to helping with communication skills, speech therapy can also help kids with hearing impairments develop other important skills, such as:
Social skills: Speech therapists can teach kids how to make eye contact, take turns in conversations, and start/maintain friendships.
Academic skills: Speech therapists can help kids with hearing impairments improve their reading comprehension and oral expression skills.
Emotional regulation: Speech therapists can teach kids how to cope with their feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
If you think your child may benefit from speech therapy, don't hesitate to reach out to a certified speech therapist in your area.
Easy Sign Language Words for Hearing Loss
Child sign language is a way of communication using visual cues instead of speech. It is the primary form of communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is not only for people with hearing impairments, it can also be used by people who can hear but cannot speak, such as those with speech impairments.
More importantly, we believe that learning sign language is beneficial for all children, even those without hearing impairments. This is because sign language can help children develop important communication and social skills.
It can make it difficult for children to learn, socialize, and communicate. If you know a child with hearing loss, there are some easy sign language words that you can use to communicate with them.
Here are a few easy sign language words that you can start with:
Hello: Wave one hand back and forth in front of your chest.
Goodbye: Wave one hand back and forth in front of your chest.
Please: Hold out one hand, palm up, and move it back and forth.
Thank you: Hold out one hand, palm up, and move it up and down.
You're welcome: Shake your head from side to side.
I'm sorry: Place your hand over your heart.
Excuse me: Tap your hand on your chest then extend your arm forward and tap your hand on the person's chest.
Yes: Nod your head up and down.
No: Shake your head from side to side.
Friend: Hold out both hands, palms up, in front of you and move them back and forth.
I love you: Cross your arms over your chest and then place one hand over your heart.
These are just a few of the many easy sign language words that you can use to communicate with children who have hearing impairments. For more information on sign language, please visit your local library or bookstore. You can also find a wealth of information online.
Tips for Parents
If you think your child has hearing loss, it is important to have them evaluated by a doctor. Early intervention is essential for helping children reach their full potential. Here are some tips for parents:
Be proactive: If you think your child has hearing loss, don't wait to have them evaluated by a doctor. The earlier they receive treatment, the better their outcome will be.
Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about hearing loss and its impact on children. This will help you better advocate for your child's needs.
Get support: Join a support group for parents. This is a great way to connect with other parents and learn from their experiences.
Be patient: Learning sign language takes time and practice. Don't get discouraged if your child is not picking it up as quickly as you would like.
Have realistic expectations: It is important to set realistic expectations for your child. They may not be able to achieve the same level of success as their peers, but they can still lead happy and fulfilling lives.
With love and patience, you can help your child overcome the challenges of hearing loss. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.
About the Author
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.
I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.