Children learn to talk by listening to those around them. The first few years of life are a critical time for speech and language development. Children must be able to hear speech clearly in order to learn language. Fluctuating hearing loss due to repeated ear infections might mean the child doesn't hear consistently and may be missing out on critical speech information. Permanent hearing loss will also affect speech and language development, especially if it is not detected early. The earlier hearing loss is identified and treated, the more likely the child will develop speech and language skills on par with children who aren’t experiencing hearing issues.
What methods of communication can be used?
Choosing a particular communication method is a very important step in learning to develop successful communication between the hearing family and the child who is hard of hearing or deaf.
Important factors to consider include the mode of communication that enables all family members to effectively communicate with the child, and if enhances your relationships with one another. Factors that may influence making these choices include:
- Degree of hearing loss
- Age of diagnosis (identification of hearing loss)
- Family perceptions and values
- Health of the child
- Level of family participation
- Child's learning style
- Child's intelligence
- Effectiveness of the child's amplification devices (hearing aid/s, cochlear implant/s)
- Hearing potential
- Amount of residual hearing
Success with any communication mode depends upon the above factors and the desire and willingness of all family members to support, nurture and actively participate in promoting functional communication.
If you suspect your child may have hearing loss or delayed speech development, please contact the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center.