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Learning that your child may have a hearing loss can be devastating for many parents. After you have some time to adjust to the news, you will learn that there are many different ways to manage hearing loss in children. The most important thing to remember is that your child will still be successful in life; excelling in school, sports, work and numerous other activities that all children enjoy.
What should I do if my child does not respond to my voice or loud noises?
If you suspect your child has a hearing loss, you should have your child evaluated immediately by a pediatric otolaryngologist and audiologists who are trained in treating children. There are hearing developmental milestones for all children, and if your child does not seem to react to noises or speech, you should verbalize your concerns to your pediatrician.
What should I expect when I bring my child to your center?
Your child will be evaluated by one of our pediatric otolaryngologists . Your child will also have his or her hearing tested by one of our audiologists who specialize in hearing loss in children. The tests may vary, depending on your child’s age.
Pediatric hearing testing usually involves the following hearing tests:
- Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
- Play Audiometry
- Otoacoustic Emissions
If my child is diagnosed with hearing loss, what should we expect in terms of treatment?
Depending on the severity of your child’s hearing loss, there are several options available:
- Hearing Aids
- Cochlear Implant
- Speech and Language Therapy
Depending on the severity of your child’s hearing loss and other factors, such as age, your doctors may recommend surgery to help treat your child’s hearing loss. Your surgeon may recommend placing tubes in your child’s ears, to help with drainage away from the ear drum. Alternatively, there may be other surgeries to help correct certain hearing problems.
Many children can be helped with hearing aids, small battery-operated devices placed behind or in the ear to facilitate hearing. There are many sizes and styles of hearing aids, as well as different technologies of hearing aids available. Speak to your audiologist about the options available to your child and what type of hearing aid may best suit his or her needs. Your child may also qualify for Bone Anchored Hearing Aids.
Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, or osseointegrated hearing aids, combine a sound processor with a small titanium fixture implanted behind the ear. This unique system allows sound to be conducted through the bone rather than via the middle ear – a process known as direct bone conduction. A child can be fit with a BAHA on a headband until it is determined that the child is ready for surgery.
Speech and Language Therapy
Creating a speech and language program for your child will be the job of a trained speech language pathologist. Early intervention is critical for your child. Early intervention means starting a specialized program to help your child as soon as possible. Time is so important because a child’s brain is programmed to learn language during the first six years of life—the first three years being the most critical. After this period, it is very difficult to acquire language and speech skills. Therefore, the earlier the intervention starts, the less of the precious six-year "window of opportunity" is lost.