Hearing impaired children
A hearing impaired child suffers from hearing loss in one or both ears. The degree of hearing loss can differ from person to person and even ear to ear.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Hearing loss affects not only the child, whose hearing is impaired, but also the child's family, friends, and teachers.
- It is very important to understand the full nature and extent of a child's hearing loss or deafness so as to ensure complete growth in all fields.
- It is essential that all the members of the family and the caregiver understands the importance of effective communication with the child.
- The earlier that deafness or hearing loss is identified, the better the chances of the child acquiring language skills -- spoken or signed.
All about hearing impairment in children
Hearing loss is described according to the degree of impairment. It is usually explained as mild, moderate, moderate to severe, severe or profound.
- Mild hearing loss -- The child can hear a conversation conducted in normal volume but has difficulty in hearing whispers, soft sounds or low volume sounds.
- Moderate hearing loss -- The child cannot follow conversations conducted in normal volume. He can hear if people speak in loud voices. He himself might be speaking in a loud voice.
- Moderate to severe hearing loss -- Even when speech is loud, these children do not hear all words and sounds clearly.
- Severe hearing loss --The child will not hear normal conversation and will only be able to pick out a few loud sounds and words. Speech and language development will be affected and specialised professional help will be needed.
- Profound hearing loss -- Such children cannot hear any sounds without the help of hearing aid.
Deafness is another name for profound hearing loss. However, people who call themselves 'Deaf' usually are identifying themselves as members of the Deaf Community. This means that they use sign language as their first language. Not all people with a severe or profound hearing loss use sign language.
Different types of hearing loss
Children are usually affected by three main types of hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss -- This are usually a result of middle ear infections. It occurs when the transfer of sound from the outer ear to the inner ear is blocked. In some types of conductive loss, hearing levels may change gradually over time or they may change from day to day.
- Sensorineural hearing loss -- This is caused by damage to the inner ear. It affects both the degree of loudness and the clarity of the sound
- Combined conductive and sensorineural hearing loss-- This is sometimes referred to as mixed loss. This occurs when the sound transfer from outer to the inner ear (cochlea)is blocked and there is also damage to the inner ear or auditory (hearing) nerve.
Hearing loss can either be unilateral -- affecting one ear; or bilateral affecting both ears.
Causes of hearing loss
There are many causes of hearing loss. These may include:
- Infections that occur during pregnancy such as rubella (German measles) and toxoplasmosis
- Repeated middle ear infections
- Disorders that damage nerves involved in hearing (degenerative disorders)
- Inherited condition or genetic cause, such as Usher's syndrome
- Abnormalities of the head and face that affect the structure of the ear
- Infections after birth, such as meningitis, mumps
- Exposure to very loud noise over long periods
- Holes in the ear drum
- Premature birth, especially when the birth weight is less than 1500 grams
- Head injury including loss of consciousness or skull fracture.
However in some cases, it may not be possible to identify the cause of deafness or hearing loss.
- The treatment for hearing loss depends on the reason for the impairment, and the severity of the impairment.
- Most conductive hearing losses can be improved by medication or surgery.
- Sensorineural hearing loss usually cannot be treated. Different types of technology are used to help children with permanent hearing loss. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are used most often to improve hearing in children with permanent disabling hearing loss.
Methods of communication People with hearing impairments may communicate in different ways.
What can I do?
- See a doctor promptly if you feel that your child is not responding to sounds and ask to be referred for a hearing test.
- See a doctor if your child complains of pain in the ears. Young children may cry and pull on their ears if they are not yet able to talk.
- If your child wears hearing aids or has a cochlear implant, keep the equipment clean and cared for. Go for regular checkups.
- Teach the child to do this as well.
- You may join support groups.
- At preschool or school, teachers can think about seating and classroom acoustics.
- Go for early intervention. The child can take advantage of the unique window of opportunity during the first few years of life when a person acquires language, whether spoken or signed.
- Roughly 13 out of every 100 school children have some degree of hearing loss.
- Children with mild or unilateral (one ear) hearing loss have difficulty with their educational, social, and speech development.
- Communication Considerations for Parents of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children NIDCD
- Children with hearing loss