Untreated hearing loss can have numerous negative effects, which is why early intervention is important. The Journal of Healthcare Communication estimates that between 1.5 and 3 million children have significant hearing loss that affects their development. Treating the issue early in life helps to prevent and manage these developmental delays and other potential disabilities.
Types of Early Intervention
The Health Resources and Service Administration for Maternal and Child Health reports that before 1993, only 10% of newborns received hearing loss screenings. Now, almost all receive hearing tests at a young age, and most received their first screening during their first month of life. If the screening detects any degree of hearing loss, experts recommend that infants begin receiving early intervention services no later than six months of age.
A hearing screening can identify whether an infant is hard of hearing or deaf, and the degree of hearing loss varies. The type of intervention recommended is often tied to the amount of residual hearing the infant has. Some of the options include:
- Brainstem or cochlear implants
- Behind-the-ear hearing aids
- Bone-anchored hearing aids
Assistive devices may come into play as someone with hearing loss or deafness becomes older. Examples include closed captioning, frequency modulation systems, telephone amplifiers, vibrating alarms, infrared listening devices and text messaging. Speech and language pathology is also a common recommendation.
If an audiologist determines that the hearing loss is due to an issue with the middle or outer ear, or it is conductive hearing loss, he or she may recommend surgery. For example, if hearing loss occurs due to chronic ear infections, the doctor may place tubes in the ears to assist with fluid drainage.
Along with initial screenings, hearing professionals recommend and support ongoing screenings, as hearing loss can occur in later years due to a variety of factors. Infants and children diagnosed with any degree of hearing loss should also receive continuous screenings to ensure the recommended treatment devices are effective.
Potential Issues Associated with Hearing Loss
Early intervention is so important because of the consequences associated with loss of hearing. One of the biggest issues is speech delay. Learning language ties significantly to hearing, so communication, in general, is challenging.
Not only do speech and language development suffer, but these significantly affect a child’s cognitive and emotional development. There is also an effect on social interactions. Untreated hearing loss often results in academic and literacy difficulties.
Hearing loss in children also affects the parents. If the parents are not deaf themselves, they may need to learn and incorporate special skills and new ways to communicate, such as sign language. The developmental delays that a child faces may also require the parents to seek out additional help and academic support.
Find Early Intervention Assistance to Prevent Speech Delay
To prevent and manage speech and language delays, and the associated social consequences, early intervention of hearing loss should be a priority. There are various treatment options, and HEAR Center can recommend the most effective option for your infant or child. Contact us to schedule an appointment and see how we can help.
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