Does My Child Have to Use Hearing Aids?
Despite an audiologists’ recommendation of hearing aids, some parents may think they can address their child’s hearing loss through other means, such as learning sign language, lip reading or talking louder. There are significant risks with going these routes because those solutions don’t address the importance of hearing to language and communication skills development.
The human brain is programmed to learn language and communication during the first six years of life. The first two years are marked with multiple hearing milestones – particularly around speech and language. As early as three months, children can recognize their parents’ voices. They begin making sounds of their own just three months later. In addition to spoken language, communication starts developing through gestures and facial expressions. Beyond infancy, hearing also sets the foundation for memory, thinking and reasoning for a child’s intellectual development.
In children with hearing loss, the consistent use of hearing aids is important to language development and communication and can have a great impact on their:
· Academic Success
Children with mild-to-moderate hearing loss who don’t use appropriate intervention tools, like hearing aids, perform at one-to-four grades lower than their peers. They typically have more difficulty in all academic areas but especially in reading and math. And there are long-term effects. As adults, those who are not verbal can earn significantly less than those who are.
Children using hearing aids and having fully developed speech can perform at the same level as their normal-hearing peers, and reach their full potential in the classroom and beyond.
· Social Development
Children with hearing loss that isn’t properly addressed miss out on everyday interactions with family and friends. They get tired of straining to hear conversations and this leaves them feeling isolated, which can results in negative mental, physical and social impacts.
Relationships and socializing are an important part of feeling connected with others and having a sense of belonging. Children who use hearing aids and have developed speech and communication skills are more capable of seamlessly integrating with society.
· Emotional Health
Untreated hearing loss can cause many negative psychological effects including anger, low self-confidence, frustration, embarrassment and depression. Again, developed speech and language skills can help avoid these negative impacts associated with hearing loss.
With proper intervention, children with hearing loss can be confident, adaptable and emotionally healthy. Parents should encourage children’s psychological well-being by focusing on their strengths and believing their children can overcome any challenges they face.
When audiologists recommend hearing aids for a child, it’s because that is the best course of action in not only addressing the key issue of hearing, but the important language development and communications skills that accompany that function. When children consistently use audiologist-prescribed hearing aids, they can make the connection between hearing and spoken language, which sets the stage for positive outcomes in their academic endeavors and social and emotional well-being.
The Georgia-based Sounds Waves Pediatric Hearing Aid Program provides children, ages birth to 19 years, with audiology services and hearing aid devices. The organization operates under the principle that no child should be denied hearing aids due to the inability to pay. Learn more or apply now!