From the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)
Caroline is six years old, with bright brown eyes and, at the moment, no front teeth, like so many other first graders. She also wears a hearing aid in each ear—and has done so since she was three, when she was diagnosed with a moderate hearing loss.
For Caroline’s parents, there were many clues along the way. Caroline often didn’t respond to her name if her back was turned. She didn’t startle at noises that made other people jump. She liked the TV on loud. But it was the preschool she started attending when she was three that first put the clues together and suggested to Caroline’s parents that they have her hearing checked. The most significant clue to the preschool was Caroline’s unclear speech, especially the lack of consonants like “d” and “t” at the end of words.
So Caroline’s parents took her to an audiologist, who collected a full medical history, examined the little girl’s ears inside and out, ran a battery of hearing tests and other assessments, and eventually diagnosed that Caroline’s inner ear (the cochlea) was damaged. The audiologist said she had sensorineural hearing loss.
Caroline was immediately fitted with hearing aids. She also began receiving special education and related services through the public school system. Now in the first grade, she regularly gets speech therapy and other services, and her speech has improved dramatically. So has her vocabulary and her attentiveness. She sits in the front row in class, an accommodation that helps her hear the teacher clearly. She’s back on track, soaking up new information like a sponge, and eager for more.
About Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing is one of our five senses. Hearing gives us access to sounds in the world around us—people’s voices, their words, a car horn blown in warning or as hello!
When a child has a hearing loss, it is cause for immediate attention. That’s because language and communication skills develop most rapidly in childhood, especially before the age of 3. When hearing loss goes undetected, children are delayed in developing these skills (March of Dimes, 2007).
Recognizing the importance of early detection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that every newborn be screened for hearing loss as early as possible, usually before they leave the hospital. Catching a hearing loss early means that treatment can start early as well and “help the child develop communication and language skills that will last a lifetime” (CDC, 2010).
Read more HERE.