What Should I do If My Baby is Diagnosed with Hearing Loss
Learning that your child has been diagnosed with hearing loss can be overwhelming. You may be unsure about how you can communicate with your baby. Remember that you are already an expert at communicating with your child!
Everyone has made a funny face at a baby and watched for that baby to smile. Communication is not just spoken or written words—it involves touching, smiling, hugging or kissing your baby, rocking your baby, singing, or laughing. Most babies with hearing loss have some hearing (called residual hearing) and can partially hear voices, especially when you are close to the baby.Suggestions & Reminders for Parents
Children who are diagnosed with hearing loss should be referred to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician, also called an ENT) for a thorough check-up. An otolaryngologist is a board-certified physician who has specialized knowledge and skills regarding the ears, nose and throat. He/she will evaluate your child to determine if there may be a medical reason for his/her hearing loss. After an ENT evaluation, the physician will determine if your child is “cleared” to receive amplification for treatment of his/her hearing loss (this is also called medical clearance for amplification). Most children with a hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing aids and other assistive (helpful) technologies.
If you choose amplification for your child, return to your child’s audiologist so that your child can be fitted for ear molds and have an evaluation with hearing aids. Your child’s audiologist will determine which hearing aid is the best match to your child’s hearing loss. You can help the audiologist by observing your child’s behavior with his/her hearing aids and telling your child’s audiologist how you think your child is responding to sound.
· Most children with hearing loss (90%) are born into families in which both parents have normal hearing. Because hearing loss affect how a child’s communication skills develop, most babies and toddlers with hearing loss will need and benefit from regular and consistent early intervention sessions.
· Children diagnosed with hearing loss should have a communication evaluation done by a professional who is trained and experienced in working with children with hearing loss. These professionals may be speech-language pathologists, audiologists, early childhood educators with special training in hearing loss, or early intervention deaf educators. These professionals usually have completed graduate-level studies in the field of hearing loss. This evaluation will take 3 – 4 hours and will give you information regarding your child’s abilities and levels of functioning in communication and other developmental areas.
· After the communication evaluation, most children diagnosed with hearing loss should be enrolled in treatment with an early intervention specialist who is trained and experienced in working with young children with hearing loss. An early intervention specialist may be a speech-language pathologist, an audiologist, an early childhood educator with special training in hearing loss, or an early intervention deaf educator.
· Children diagnosed with hearing loss should continue to see their audiologist for audiological (hearing) management. This management may include other hearing evaluations, ear mold impressions and fittings, or hearing aid adjustments.