- Why earliest intervention?
Our ears are filled with music of our child’s first talk and our heart tries to retain the memory of that sound. But imagine a situation where all you hear is “silence…”.
Hearing loss in children can impair normal development of speech & language, his emotional balance, and academic & intellectual skills. Profound hearing loss can lead to dumbness which can be avoided.
From birth to first three years of life are important for a child to learn speaking, so early detection and intervention are very important. Babies should be screened for hearing at birth especially high risk ones. Child with mild hearing loss is generally labeled as inattentive or slow learner. But care for your kid and try to find out if he is hearing normally. Hearing should be tested as child grows on slightest suspicion of hearing-deficit by parents, care givers, teachers and family doctors.
Simple observation at home:
· Birth to 3 months: child startle to loud sound
· 3 to 6 months : turns eyes or head towards sound
· 6 to 12 months : listen attentively to familiar sound, respond to name, initiate some sound and few words like bye-bye
· 15 to 24 months: follow simple commands, repeat phrases.
When to visit a specialist: warning signs:
· Delayed mile stones/speech
· Kid isolating/irritable
· Difficulty in following verbal instructions
· Ask for repetition of sentence/word
· Difficulty listening in noisy surroundings
· Turn up volume of T.V./radio
· Have academic problem
· Have repeated ear infection/blockage.
On slightest doubt child should be seen by an Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) specialist for thorough examination and evaluation of cause of hearing impairment. Audiologist may perform tests to assess degree & type of hearing-loss. Conductive hearing loss is largely preventable and can be managed by medicine or surgery. Sensorineural loss should be managed by hearing-aids.
Management of hearing-impairment:
Depends on types of hearing-loss
Conductive: When sound is blocked to reach the inner ear. Causes may be wax, foreign body, allergy, fluid in the middle ear(glue ear), repeated ear infection, or perforation of ear-drum.
Usually it can be prevented and managed by medicine and/or surgery
Sensori-neural: Damage to nerve of hearing or inner ear. May be present at birth or may develop after some fever, oto-toxic medication, loud noise, head/ear trauma, tumors.
Usually it is permanent and requires rehabilitation in the form of hearing-aids or cochlear implants.
Management of deaf child is team effort. Fitting of hearing aids should be considered as soon as deafness severe enough to impede natural speech development is diagnosed.
Fitting should be done by experts with wide experience in the field for this age group.
Auditory training, speech therapy and psychological counseling are required along with supportive handling by parents, family and teacher.
Hearing-aids are instruments to amplify the sound so that you hear well.
Hearing aids should be customized and fitted as per individual children’s needs.
They come in several shapes and sizes; pocket type, behind the ear, in the ear, in the canal, and smallest completely in the canal.
Digital hearing aids are example of advancing technology in the field and known for greater precision. They convert sound waves and modify the sound to provide clear amplified signal, so noise discomfort can be avoided. Some hearing aids have special characteristics direction setting, telephone setting, audio zoom and FM technology.
Child with profound hearing-loss which can not be helped by hearing-aids may be considered for cochlear-implant.