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SOURCE Hear the World Foundation
The Hear the World Foundation spreads the word about the wide-ranging impact of hearing on development in young children
WARRENVILLE, Ill., Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In early childhood, our sense of hearing plays a crucial role, providing the basis for speech and communication skills. If a hearing impairment is not diagnosed and treated at an early stage, this can have a negative impact on a child's personal development as well as educational, social and professional opportunities throughout life. Given this, it's critical that parents are able to recognize the signs of possible hearing loss early and take appropriate action quickly.
For young children, every day is a journey of discovery; using their five senses, they are continuously gaining impressions and constantly learning new things. If one of their sensory organs is damaged, this can have an adverse effect on their development as a whole, as is demonstrated particularly by the loss of the ability to hear.
"Only through hearing and imitating speech can children adapt their articulation, discover the meanings of words and ultimately learn how to construct sentences," explains Christine Jones, Au.D., CCC-A, Director of Pediatric Clinical Research at Phonak. "Generally, a child with normal development will acquire a basic command of language by the age of three or four."
However, children with untreated hearing impairment don't perceive auditory stimuli to a sufficient extent or fail to respond to them at all. This will severely delay their language acquisition and may even prevent them from ever learning to speak. Deficiencies at this stage of development are extremely difficult to overcome later on. Children affected by this often experience problems with interpersonal communication and feel socially isolated.
"That's why it is so important to ensure that hearing loss in young children doesn't go unnoticed for a long period of time," said Dr. Jones. "The goal is to provide appropriate amplification to children with hearing loss by six months of age. This treatment, along with medical and therapeutic care can help children develop at an appropriate rate for their age."
How can parents tell if their child cannot hear very well?
If a child responds unusually slowly to acoustic stimuli or fails to react at all – when being spoken to from outside his or her field of vision, for example – or does not seem frightened by sudden loud noises such as a door slamming, this could be an early sign of hearing loss. Parents should also investigate the possibility of hearing impairment if they notice that their child is learning to speak at a much slower rate than other children of the same age or stops uttering any sounds. Another possible indication is monotonous babbling or when a young child produces a more limited variety of sounds than his or her peers.
What can be done to help children with hearing loss?
If parents suspect that their child has a hearing impairment, they should consult a pediatrician, an Ear-Nose &Throat specialist or a pediatric audiologist immediately. Hearing loss can be treated in various ways depending on the type and severity of the impairment:
If a hearing aid does not offer sufficient help, a cochlear implant (CI) may be an effective choice. Generally speaking, children who are one year old and older with the auditory nerve intact may be candidates for this surgical implant device.
"Other support such as speech and/or music therapy should also be considered as means to help young children's speech development at a rate appropriate for their age. This can also enhance the children's verbal and communication skills," explained Dr. Jones.
Useful tips for parents of children with hearing loss
You can find more information about hearing loss in babies and children at: www.heartheworld.com/children
About the Hear the World Foundation
By supporting the charitable Hear the World Foundation, Sonova is campaigning for equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people with hearing loss. As a leading manufacturer of hearing systems, the company feels socially responsible for contributing towards a world where everyone has the chance to enjoy good hearing. For instance, the Hear the World Foundation supports disadvantaged people with hearing loss around the world and gets involved in prevention and providing information. It focuses particularly on projects for children with hearing loss, to enable them to develop at the appropriate rate for their age. More than 60 famous ambassadors, including celebrities such as Placido Domingo, Annie Lennox, Sting and Joss Stone, champion the Hear the World Foundation. For further information, go to www.heartheworld.com. Connect with us at http://www.facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld
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