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Signs of Hearing Loss

Signs of hearing loss in children & youth:

Children and Youth

  • Lack of attention to sounds

  • Does not follow simple directions

  • Does not respond when their name is called

  • Delays in speech and language development

  • Pulls or scratches at their ears

  • Difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math

  • Socially isolated and unhappy in school

  • Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)


Additional Resources

Hearing Loss

Noise Induced Hearing Loss


 Good hearing is key to developing good speech and language skills.

 The foundation for these skills develops during the critical early years from birth to age three. Unfortunately, hearing loss continues to be one of the most common  disorders present at birth in America. It is estimated that 3 infants out of 1,000 born are deaf or hearing impaired.

Since 1999, there has been federal legislation funding newborn infant hearing screening. Nationally, more than 90 percent of infants are screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. In California, 78 percent of newborns were screened in 2005 and that rate jumped to 84.4 percent in 2006.

The two most commonly used hearing tests for newborns are called otoacoustic emission (OAE) testing and auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing .

With the OAE test, a small probe containing a microphone and speaker is placed into the infant’s ear. Sounds are generated and responses coming back are recorded. With the ABR test, leads are attached to the baby’s head and connected to a computer. Through an earphone, sounds enter each ear separately and a computer analyzes changes in the brain wave pattern in response to the sounds.Both of these tests are computerized and quite reliable. The baby receives a score of either pass or refer. If your baby does not pass either test, you need to take additional steps. That’s because screening tests are designed just to identify babies who need further attention. Often, the child who is given a score of refer will be rescreened. If there is still not a pass score, the baby should be referred to an audiologist.An audiologist should assess your child prior to age 3 months. If it turns out that your child is diagnosed with a hearing impairment, early intervention services should be in place by the time your child is 6 months old.

 Find a Professional

When you seek professional help in your local area, look for a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP) or audiologist who has earned the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA. ASHA-certified SLPs have “CCC-SLP” after their names. ASHA-certified audiologists have “CCC-A.”


Signs of Speech and Language Disorders

Signs of common speech and language disorders in children between birth to 4 years of age, an important stage in early detection of communication disorders:

  • Does not interact socially (infancy and older)

  • Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)

  • Says only a few sounds, words, or gestures (18 months to 2 years)

  • Words are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)

  • Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)

Additional Resources


 If you recognize any of the above in your child, contact your Pediatrician. 

He/she will likely seek further evaluation including a hearing test and a developmental assessment.  Early intervention programs are often the referral made for children under 3 with speech and language delays.  Referrals to your local school districts might also be made for children over 3 exhibiting delays in speech or language. Assessment and treatment recommendations will likely be conducted by a psychologist and/or a speech language pathologist(SLP)

What is a Speech and Language Assessment?

A speech and language assessment should be conducted prior to a diagnosis or entry into therapy or program is made. The assessment is the foundation by which the professionals will base their therapeutic and treatment approach. An assessment is often done by a SLP and will consist of meeting the child, playing with developmentally appropriate toys, and listening to the child’s sound system. Standardized tests can also be used and typically look at at least five domains:

  • Cognitive

  • Expressive communication

  • Receptive communication

  • Gross motor

  • Fine motor

 Although early intervention and speech therapy are essential to helping a child with speech delays, there are things parents and caregivers can do to support a child's speech, which include:

  • Readingto your child. Picture books are great because they allow you to make a game of pointing and naming familiar objects.

  • Using simple language and asking him questions. Narrating is a good practice to get into to help foster speech development. It may seem weird at first but hearing words constantly will help your child make the connections necessary to formulate his speech and language. 

  • Giving positive reinforcementwhen your child does talk.

  • Using speech to match his gestures. When he points to an object he wants, such as a cup of juice, say “Do you want some juice?” or “Oh, you want the cup,” etc. and then give it to him.

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