This month we’re celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month, part of a larger movement across the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This year’s theme is “Communication: The Key to Connection,” so we are highlighting the many ways you can help a child who is deaf or hard of hearing to succeed through communication.
Some of the fondest, most innate memories in our lives are not ones that can recalled with a photo, but instead, live deeper: the sound of the wind whistling in the trees or the peals of laughter from a newborn baby. Do you recall the crack of the bat against the baseball that surely meant a home-run or the whisper of a best friend telling you an eye-opening secret? The obnoxiously loud bell announcing the start of school or the cheerful singing of your family around a birthday cake? That poem you recited into the microphone in front of all your classmates or the unchanging melody of an ice cream truck as it winds through the neighborhood? At Hearing First, we are dedicated to powering children’s potential to enjoy all these moments in life. Here are some of the ways you can help a child who is deaf or hard of hearing to succeed through communication.
The Importance of Newborn Screening This week, we’re focused on the biology of your child’s ear and what it takes for them to hear. So why exactly do you need to know the status of your baby’s hearing? Most babies receive a newborn hearing screening before they leave the hospital. This screening will help identify a potential hearing loss. If your baby fails the screening, you'll want a pediatric audiologist to conduct further diagnostic tests which provide the diagnosis and recommendations for the appropriate technology your baby needs to access all sounds of speech. You need to know this status early so you can make decisions about the outcomes you want as a family and give your baby the best chance at brain development for listening and talking. Your baby’s brain needs sound as early as possible to grow the neural connections that will help them learn. Newborn hearing screening conducted promptly after birth is the first step to make sure auditory information from the environment is getting to your baby’s brain.
What Comes Next: Hearing Tests Think about your baby’s ears as a doorway to the brain. If your baby’s ears are open then they can deliver auditory information to your baby’s brain. Testing will help determine if hearing loss has blocked the doorway that delivers auditory information to your baby’s brain. You need to know what your baby can hear. You need to know if your baby’s hearing doorway to their brain is fully open. Good hearing – a clear pathway through the ears to the brain – is important for speech, language, and reading development. Most babies have their hearing screening in the hospital or birthing center. If your newborn did not pass the newborn hearing screening, you will be referred for a re-screening or a more complete hearing evaluation to determine if there is a doorway problem that is preventing information from getting to your baby’s brain.
Finding the Appropriate Technology There are medical and technological ways to get auditory information through the doorway to your baby’s brain. This means that if your baby has hearing loss, they need to be fitted with the right hearing technology. That way their brain will have access to the sound it needs to begin to learn the spoken language of your home through listening. It’s important to act quickly and make an appointment with a pediatric audiologist so your baby can begin hearing speech sounds with the appropriate technology. If your child is older and you’re concerned about their hearing, you’ll want to schedule a hearing screening as soon as possible.
Ongoing Access to Sound You don’t want your baby to miss out on the sounds and spoken language that surround them. Hearing is your baby’s connection to the everyday sounds of talking, singing, and reading. These are the building blocks for learning to listen and talk and doing well in school. This isn’t just a one-time thing. Your child needs continuous access to all sounds of speech in order to develop listening and spoken language. This requires a true partnership between you and your early interventionist and pediatric audiologist. It’s a commitment to be continually aware of your child’s auditory access. Each small step on the path to listening and spoken language will make a huge difference in the long run.
Join Our Community No matter where you are on the journey, you can find power in community. Join the Hearing First Family Support Community today and connect, share, grow and learn with others on the LSL journey. And share your stories on social this month using hashtag #BHSM and mentioning @HearingFirst in your posts. We’re excited to celebrate better hearing and speech with you, today and everyday!
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