Hearing is an important part of speech and language development. Impaired hearing can make it difficult for children to hear sounds such as 'f', 'sh', and 's' and if they can't hear these sounds they may have difficulty producing
them. This is what typically leads to reduced understanding for parents, making children frustrated when they cannot communicate their wants and needs. These children may also demonstrate some difficulty with producing sentences; they may produce shorter, incomplete sentences.
It is important to have routine hearing screens because hearing loss can occur at any age for a variety of reasons. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on speech and language development. Some instances in which hearing loss may occur or be present are listed below:
Frequent ear infections
Cleft palate or other conditions that may impact the shape of the ears, face, and head
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that children have a hearing screen:
Within the first month of life
At checkups occurring at 4, 5, and 6 years of age
Twice during their grade-school years
Once between 11 and 14 years of age
Once between 18 and 21 years of age
If a hearing concern is present, it is a good idea to complete a hearing screen and then follow up with a full hearing evaluation (completed by an audiologist). This evaluation takes about 30 minutes and the results can be discussed fairly soon after the evaluation.
Early detection of hearing difficulty is beneficial for many reasons. It allows the child to get amplification (ie hearing aids) and intervention services if needed. A speech language pathologist can be beneficial to increase intelligibility and target speech sound errors associated with a hearing impairment.
Check out our speech language page for more information