DIAGNOSIS

My Child Was Diagnosed With Hearing Loss.  What Should I Do Next?

   
Once a hearing loss is confirmed, your child’s audiologist and pediatrician should refer your child to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT), also known as an otolaryngologist, who can provide information on various approaches for your child based on his or her unique circumstances as well as rule out any underlying causes for your child’s hearing loss, such as an ear infection.
 
Start pursuing early intervention services like getting your child fitted with the appropriate hearing aid technology and learning how to stimulate speech and language skills in your child.  Do not wait to initiate these services. The first three years of a child’s life are the most critical in terms of learning foundational language skills and only with appropriate early intervention will you obtain the best possible outcome for you child.
    

Will My Child Be Able to Speak?

In the past, a diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss would have meant that your child would not be able to communicate verbally.  That is no longer true.  With new and more advanced technology, even those with profound hearing loss can acquire the verbal and language skills to develop spoken language.
    
Technology and Early Intervention
Don't Wait.
   
Research suggests that cochlear implantation works best for young children, ideally, before age three. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved cochlear implants for infants as young as 12 months, although children who are even younger have received the devices.
 
However, technology alone is not enough to ensure that your child has the best possible outcome.  Continuing audiology services and early intervention communication therapies are additional necessary elements of your child’s treatment plan. 
    
Children begin hearing while they are in the womb and start learning language during their first few days of life. That is why, in order to have the best possible language outcome for your child, it is imperative that your child is fitted with appropriate technology, be it hearing aids or cochlear implants, as soon as possible.
    
For children with mild to moderate hearing loss, a hearing aid can significantly help communication by amplifying sound. Hearing aids are small electronic, battery-operated devices that collect sounds with a microphone and direct the amplified signal into your child’s ear.
    
If your child has a severe or profound hearing loss in both ears, traditional hearing aids may not be enough to provide adequate sound awareness and speech understanding. Fortunately, technology exists that can help people with profound hearing loss gain partial hearing—cochlear implants. While cochlear implants cannot restore normal hearing, the benefits for most children include improved sound awareness, improved speech recognition, enhanced speech production skills, and ability to perceive speech without speechreading. Today, advances in cochlear implant technology enable more children to maximize these benefits and develop listening and spoken language skills.