In honor of Audiology Awareness Month, we’ve compiled a few frequently asked questions parents have about their child’s hearing health and language development.
Q: “Why should my baby receive a newborn hearing screen?”
A: Hearing loss is critical to identify early in life. Parents need to be aware of the status of their child’s auditory pathway and hearing abilities as it impacts their social, emotional, and educational development.
Q: “What happens during the hearing screen?”
A: A technician will use a device that delivers soft sounds to the baby’s auditory system, through a probe or earphone. The same device will record a response from that baby’s auditory nerve (hearing nerve) assessing its function.
Q: “What happens if my baby passes, but with risk factors?”
A: If your baby passes the hearing screen but has risk factors, they will need to have their hearing checked periodically during early childhood. In the meantime, monitor your child’s language development ensuring they are meeting age appropriate milestones, heightened use of other senses, and/or their ability to sleep soundly through loud environments.
Q: “What happens if my baby fails and is referred for follow-up testing?”
A: There are many reasons a baby can fail a screen. The only way to determine or identify why is to have follow-up testing completed, as recommended within the first 3 months of life. If hearing loss is identified, the baby will be referred to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician for a complete medical evaluation.
Q: “How early does my child starting learning language?”
A: Your child will begin to learn and interpret language from the moment they are born. Even if your child isn’t speaking in full words, they are always absorbing language from the world around them.
Q: “Why is language exposure crucial early in life?”
A: Researchers have identified the first 1-3 years of life as critical for language development. Help your child at home by talking and interacting with them, reading books, and encouraging your children to use words when requesting objects or food versus pointing.
Q: “What can I do to help my child who is having language delays?”
A: First and foremost, discuss your concern with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can refer you to an Audiologist or Speech Language Pathologist to determine the cause of the language delay.