Experts say the first few years of a child's life are the most important in his or her overall development. Hearing loss can be a significant obstacle to learning, especially during early childhood. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association reports that when hearing loss is detected late, critical time is lost for stimulating the auditory pathways to hearing centers of the brain. Speech and language development is delayed, affecting social and emotional growth and academic achievement.
Unfortunately, hearing problems are often overlooked. By the time you notice obvious signs of hearing impairment, your child may already have missed many opportunities to develop important social, language, and learning skills. You can help ensure your child's proper development by knowing the following symptoms of hearing loss and seeking help if your child exhibits them:
Newborns: Your baby isn't startled by hand clapping 3 to 6 feet away or isn't quieted by your voice.
8 to 12 months: Your child doesn't turn her head toward familiar sounds or doesn't "jabber" in response to human voices.
1 1/2 years: Your child isn't using a few single words (mom, dog, etc.) or can't identify parts of the body when prompted.
2 years: Your child can't follow simple commands without visual clues or can't repeat phrases.
3 years: Your child can't locate source of a sound or can't understand and use words like "go," "me," "in," or "big."
4 years: Your child can't give a connected account of some recent experience or can't carry out two simple directions in a row.
5 years: Your child can't carry on a simple conversation, or his speech is hard to understand.
School age: Hearing loss in school-aged children is sometimes indicated by frequent inattentiveness, lack of concentration, below-par performance, and frequent colds or earaches.
If your child is experiencing any of these problems or not exhibiting average behavior for his or her age group, consult your physician.