This article has been contributed by Cochlear India(http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/in/home). Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions with high-quality products that help implant recipients interact more fully with their world. After more than 25 years of ground breaking innovations, people at Cochlear continue to be passionate about helping people to hear.
Hearing loss can occur to anyone regardless of their age. Children, too, could be suffering from different types of hearing loss and such an ailment at a young learning age can wreak havoc in the child’s overall development. Fortunately, hearing loss can be easily identified as tests are present to determine hearing loss and the extent of hearing loss shortly after birth. If you have a child of any age with hearing loss, the right treatment and support can help your child easily overcome this ailment. Don’t let hearing loss hold your child back from learning and communicating. Here’s how you can help:
- Early Intervention – Early intervention program helps you understand your child’s needs and the treatment the baby will need. Intervention programs can be found in hospitals or public schools. These programs consist of audiologists and speech language pathologists that come up with appropriate methods of treating your child.
- Early treatment – For hearing loss, early treatment is vital. With cochlear implants and hearing aids, the child will be able to catch up with kids of his age in no time. It is during the early stages of life when the brain develops the most, therefore an early treatment for hearing loss can be effective. The earlier you treat hearing loss, the faster your child will develop speech and communication skills.
- Focus on Speech Development - A child with hearing loss will obviously find it difficult to listen, forget comprehending what the other person says. In order to speak correctly, the child needs to hear speech clearly. With the help of hearing aids and/or cochlear implants, a child can comfortably learn to listen, develop communication skills, and be able to talk.
- Aural Rehabilitation - Rehabilitation is aimed at restoring an ability that is lost. In a child suffering from hearing loss, this ability may not be present initially, so it needs to be taught — hence, this process could be termed as “habilitative,” not “rehabilitative.” The aural rehabilitation plan will also depend on the kind of communication method the child will be using whether it is ASL (American Sign Language), auditory-oral, Cued speech, or manually coded English.
- Use Different Communication Approach - Try different ways of communication with the child suffering from hearing loss to help them learn language. You can use a combination of sign language, gestures, speech, hearing aids, pictures, books etc. to improve effectiveness.
- Explore sounds – Hearing sounds and developing speech will tremendously improve your child’s condition. Play games with your baby like – peek-a-boo, itsy-bitsy spider and pat-a-cake; these will teach your baby about taking turns when talking. Also, talk about things that you’re doing, like ‘Mommy is doing the dishes’ and ‘We are going to grandma’s.
- Don’t Hesitate – You know what is best for your child. So, if your education strategy for your baby isn’t going as planned, do not hesitate to ask for help. It is always difficult to educate a child with hearing loss, hence external assistance must be considered.
With proper training, tools, and treatment, children with hearing loss will be able to develop speech and communication skills. So, act early, seek proper habilitation and get involved in your child’s journey into the world of sounds!