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Could it be a Hearing Problem?

One of the most amazing and important accomplishments of infancy and early childhood is the development of language. Babies start to say their first words around one year of age…and in no time (around age 4), they know more than 1500 words and begin telling stories. Language skills developed during the preschool years serve as a wonderful foundation for learning in school.

But, sometimes (and parents tend to dismiss this possibility) toddlers don’t seem to be learning as expected due to something as simple and rectifiable as, yes, a hearing problem. So, what is the expected “schedule” for hearing development?

One can use these indicators to ensure that their child can hear well:

  • Newborn to eight weeks of age – startles or widens their eyes at sudden noises nearby, and is woken or stirred from sleep by noise
  • Eight weeks to four months – looks towards direction of sound, and may quieten while listening
  • Six to 12 months – turns head towards known voices or sounds, starts to babble
  • 12 to 18 months – knows the names of favourite toys, begins to imitate simple words and sounds
  • 18 to 24 months – has a small vocabulary of single words, and can understand simple directions such as ‘Give mummy the ball’
  • Two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years – has clear speech with a good vocabulary.

    Some signs that your toddler may have trouble hearing:

  • Doesn’t respond when called
  • Has a dip in school performance (because she can’t hear the teacher)
  • Complains of a ringing sound in her ears (tinnitus)
  • Talks too loudly
  • Watches the television with the volume turned up too high
  • Pronounces words incorrectly
  • Appears inattentive and prone to daydreaming

    For young children, every day is a journey of discovery; using their five senses, they are continuously gaining impressions and constantly learning new things. If one of their sensory organs is damaged, this can have an adverse effect on their development as a whole, as is demonstrated particularly by the loss of the ability to hear. Only through hearing and imitating speech can children adapt their articulation, discover the meanings of words and ultimately learn how to construct sentences.

    However, children with untreated hearing loss don’t perceive auditory stimuli to a sufficient extent or fail to respond to them at all. This could severely delay their language acquisition and may even prevent them from ever learning to speak. Deficiencies at this stage of development are extremely difficult to overcome later on. Children affected by this, often experience problems with interpersonal communication and feel socially isolated.

    Children are never too young to have their hearing tested and the sooner a childs hearing loss is identified and treated the better chance for normal speech and language development and educational opportunities. Parents and teachers should be watchful for any signs of hearing difficulties and work together so as to take appropriate action in time.

    Priti Srivastava, Founder CEO, Vidyarambh

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