As life is busy and full of so many distractions, it can be easy to miss signs of hearing impairment in your child. Often it can even get missed until children enter school or are around more people. Also, because hearing impairment isn’t always congenital, it can be even harder to catch. Know that it can develop in young children following viruses like measles and mumps. Other things like ear infections and traumatic or loud noises can lead to hearing loss in children. Pediatric hearing loss can be especially problematic because it affects their development and learning. If you suspect your child is experiencing any problems with their ears or hearing, contact your doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are some signs to look out for.
Slow or No Reaction to Noises
One of the first signs that your child might need a hearing test with your doctor or audiologist is that he/she doesn’t react or seem to hear sounds as everyone else can. For example, your child doesn’t turn toward or react to a slamming door or a dog barking nearby. If you notice this happening a lot, begin paying closer attention and record anything that concerns you. If the issue persists, it’s time to ask your doctor to do a formal hearing evaluation.
Difficulty Identifying the Source of a Sound or Speaker
If someone is talking to your child, but your child looks at someone else, it could indicate a difficulty in accurately determining who is speaking. Similarly, if your child looks for a sound in a room different from the sound source, it means they can’t easily identify where sounds come from.
The TV or Radio Is Not Loud Enough
Do you always have to turn down the television when your child is watching it, and are they annoyed with you when you do this? Again, this could be an indication that his/her hearing might be impaired in some way. Another way you can check if your child hears optimally is to look at the volume settings on the other devices used regularly. Check to see if they are set at a safe volume.
Slow or No Response When Being Called By Name
Children learn their names quickly; it is one of the first words they pick up and learn to use. But if a hearing impairment develops, your child could lose the ability to hear his/her name when called or spoken to. This could happen gradually, so pay attention to all verbal communication. If you talk to your child or call them from another room, and he/she doesn’t come or there is a delayed response, make sure to ask why, so you can rule out other reasons. Listen to your child’s answer and communicate any concerns to your pediatrician. If you still have concerns, learn more by contacting an audiologist.
Slow Speech Development
People with hearing impairments also find it difficult to speak because some of the sound frequencies are unavailable to the brain. This causes the brain to compensate as a result. That is why those with hearing impairments can’t pronounce certain words correctly. If you notice this trait in your child’s speech, it could be indicating a hearing impairment. Remember to monitor your child for other signs of impairment to double-check, but it’s still a good idea to make an appointment with an audiologist.
Developmental and Learning Issues
Is your child learning at a slower rate than other children of the same age? It could be a sign that lessons or instructions aren’t heard, and it’s having an impact on their work. This is a common symptom of hearing impairment, especially when school gets harder.
There are several ways you can monitor your child before you contact your medical professional or audiologist. Use some of the methods above, but, additionally, talk to your child’s educator and ask him/her to watch for signs of hearing impairment in the classroom.
Types of Hearing Tests
If you have never been to an audiologist, you might not be familiar with the types of audiology tests available. There are multiple tests your child can undergo to determine impairment. These include a pure-tone test, bone conduction test, and speech testing.
The most common type of test is a pure-tone test, which is non-invasive and effective. Your child will be placed in a room and asked to put on headphones. A pure tone is then played into each ear, and the results are recorded. This is normally the first stop to determine hearing impairment.