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Hearing loss in children


Hearing loss, or a hearing impairment, is a full or partial loss of the ability to detect sound. It is most commonly caused by an abnormality associated with the anatomy or function of the ear.

When discussing hearing loss or hearing impairment, the term “hard of hearing” is used if a person‘s degree of loss is in the mild to severe range and “deaf” if they are in the profound range and have little usable residual hearing.

People who are born with a severe to profound hearing loss may have difficulty learning to speak clearly because they simply cannot hear other people‘s voices that well and therefore cannot imitate them, which is necessary in the process of developing speech. They are also unable to hear their own voices well when they try to speak.

Hearing Loss and Development

In order to learn to communicate effectively, children need to be exposed to spoken language from birth. The more spoken language a child hears, then the more opportunity they have to combine these sounds with their other senses and learn to correctly associate words with their meanings.

Children learn speech and language from listening to others talk, therefore constant access to speech and environmental sounds is critical for the development of speech, language, and listening abilities for both babies and toddlers.

For children with a hearing loss, learning a language can be much more challenging. Because they struggle to access all of the speech sounds that are critical for listening and talking (the high-frequency sound of the letter ‘s’ is a good example), they are likely to take a lot longer to mimic these sounds and will therefore find it difficult to learn certain words and phrases.

Hearing loss is thought to be one of the most common health issues in children and it is estimated that roughly 30 children per 1000 have some form of hearing loss.

Types of hearing loss

Find out about the different types of hearing loss by visiting the Hearing Loss section of the website.

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