Not All Children Who Have Hearing Loss Are Deaf

“The doctor said he will grow out of it”

“It’s just an ear infection, antibiotics will get rid of it”

“Many children don’t speak until they are three, she will be ok”

Fortunately, these answers are not good enough for many parents and they seek the opinion of an audiologist to rule out hearing loss as a cause for their concerns. However, there are some children who do not receive the diagnosis of permanent hearing loss until later on. Permanent pediatric hearing loss alone creates disadvantages in the areas of spoken language development, social and emotional skills and academic success, and children who receive a late diagnosis of permanent hearing loss fall even further behind.

Permanent pediatric hearing loss is often detected at birth through Universal Newborn Hearing Screening. New Mexico state legislation now requires newborn hearing screenings, and screenings are performed on more than 90 percent of babies born in the state. The goal is then to do a full diagnostic testing for those children who fail the screening before the age of 3 months and if the child is found to have permanent hearing loss, have them enrolled in an early intervention program and be wearing hearing devices by 6 months of age. If only newborn hearing screenings were enough.

Some children do not follow up after failing a screening and some children are born with normal hearing but acquire hearing loss later on. These things result in children with permanent hearing losses going months or years without treatment. In fact, many children are not identified until they enter kindergarten.

Many of the problems caused by undetected permanent pediatric hearing loss can be improved by early detection and treatment. The simple answer to the problem of late detection is for a parent who suspects a problem to have their child meet with an audiologist for further testing. The more difficult answer is that, as most adults who wear hearing devices know, is hearing aids alone do not solve all of the problems created by hearing loss and many other interventions may be necessary.