Hearing is critical to a child's speech and language development, communication, and learning, yet children with hearing problems continue to be an underidentified and underserved population.
This May, as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is urging parents to take their child for a hearing screening if they suspect a problem.
Warning to Parents: The earlier a hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious the potential effects on the child's development. However, the earlier the problem is identified and intervention begins, the less serious the ultimate impact will be.
There are four major ways in which hearing loss affects a child:
- It causes delays in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (the child's speech and language skills develop more slowly).
- The language deficit adversely affects the child's vocabulary, sentence structure, and speaking ability, causing learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement.
- These learning and academic problems often lead to social isolation and poor self-esteem.
- The inability of the child to effectively communicate and socialize with others and the low self-esteem that often occurs frequently have a detrimental impact on the child's future vocational choices.
What Can Parents Do?
Research indicates that children identified with a hearing loss who begin services early may be able to develop language (spoken and/or signed) on a par with their hearing peers. If a hearing loss is detected in your child, early family-centered intervention is recommended to promote language (speech and/or signed, depending on family choices) and cognitive development. An audiologist, as part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals, will evaluate your child and suggest the most appropriate audiologic intervention program.
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For more information about hearing disorders and prevention, visit www.asha.org. To find a certified audiologist in your local area, go to ProSearch at www.asha.org/findpro/.
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 145,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.
View all ASHA press releases at www.asha.org/about/news.
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