Child Audiologic (Hearing) Habilitation

Children with hearing loss need to learn how to communicate. They also need to learn to listen and use their hearing aids. Audiologists can help.

On this page:

About Hearing Habilitation

Audiologic, or hearing, rehabilitation helps people with hearing loss. Rehabilitation, or rehab for short, helps people relearn skills that they have lost. If an older child or adult loses her hearing, rehab can help her learn to hear again.

Babies and young children born with hearing loss have not learned to listen and talk. They need to learn these skills, not relearn them. Hearing treatment for these children is habilitation, not rehab.

Hearing habilitation will include:

  • Finding ways for your child to communicate
  • Learning speech and language
  • Learning to listen
  • Training on how to take care of hearing aids and other devices

More information on this topic can be found in our Audiology Information Series [PDF].

Ways to Communicate

Hearing loss can cause problems for your child as he grows. He may have trouble speaking, reading, learning in school, and making friends. What treatment your child needs will depend on:

  • How old your child is
  • How old he was when he lost his hearing
  • How bad his hearing loss is
  • What type of hearing loss he has
  • How old he was when he first used hearing aids

Treatment will focus on the way you want your child to communicate. Some of the ways include:

  • Listening and speaking. You may hear this called auditory-verbal or auditory-oral. Your child will use a hearing aid or other device. She will listen and learn words. The goal is for her to talk at home, in school, and with friends.
  • Cued speech or cued language. You use hand movements near your mouth as you speak. These movements show sounds and words. They help your child understand what others say.
  • American Sign Language, or ASL. Your child uses hand and body movements in place of speaking. The rules for how to put words together in ASL are different than spoken English. For example, you say, "Do you want a drink?" In ASL, it is, "Drink you want?"
  • Total communication: Your child will talk, sign, fingerspell, lipread, and listen.

Speech and Language Skills

It is important to have your child's hearing tested. Early use of hearing aids or cochlear implants will help your child. Children who get help by 6 months old may learn language like children without hearing loss.

An audiologist can help find the best hearing treatment for your child. A speech-language pathologist, or SLP, can help your child understand language, make speech sounds, and use words. Your child may also get help from early intervention or in school.

Listening

Your child will need to learn to listen. One of the first things he will learn is the sound of your voice. He will learn sounds in your house. He will learn that sounds have meaning. You can help by naming different sounds for him. You can say, "Listen, I hear the dog. He barks, 'woof.'" As he gets older, he will learn to tell the difference between speech sounds. For example, he will learn that "b" sounds different than "m."

Using Hearing Aids and Other Devices

Babies and young children need help with their hearing aids or cochlear implants. You will need to know how to take care of and use the aids. As your child gets older, she will need to take care of her own devices.

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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