While it is well known that untreated hearing loss has a number of negative consequences for adults, it can be even more detrimental for children. Fortunately, research has shown that interventions such as cochlear implants and hearing aids can minimize the impact of hearing loss and help improve a child’s speech and language skills.
How Untreated Hearing Loss Impacts Speech & Language Development
There are four major ways hearing loss affects children, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:
- Delays speech and language skills
- Lowers academic achievement
- Leads to social isolation
- Limits career choice
Children with hearing loss often have trouble understanding words with multiple means or more abstract words like “before” and “after.” Certain sounds are harder for them to hear, which can limit the sentences they put together and the words they include in their vocabulary.
The good news is that with proper diagnosis and treatment, most children with hearing loss are able to catch up to their hearing-abled peers.
Hearing Aids Can Improve Language & Speech
A study conducted at the University of Iowa, Boys Town National Research Hospital and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined the impact of early identification and intervention on children with hearing loss. The researchers followed 180 preschool-aged children with hearing loss.
They found that the children who wore hearing aids experienced better language and speech development than those with untreated hearing loss. And the longer they wore their hearing aids, the better their development.
According to Bruce Tomblin, a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Iowa, “The cautionary note from our research is that any degree of hearing loss, even mild, can place children at risk. Our study shows that the risk can be minimized with early and aggressive intervention.”
When to Seek Treatment
The first three years of a child’s life are crucial for their speech and language skills. If you notice your child is not responding to sounds, contact their pediatrician. You will then be referred to a pediatric audiologist for testing.
Seeking treatment quickly is key. Research confirms that early intervention can improve a child’s development and social skills.
To learn more about treating your child’s hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, contact the experts at Central Plains ENT today.