Navigating your way through the early years of your newborn’s life can be challenging enough without discovering they’re experiencing hearing loss.
Learning their development will be delayed and their ability to communicate will take a different path can be devastating, according to Felicity McNally, Manager for Early Intervention in Telethon Speech and Hearing’s Chatterbox program.
“The time following a diagnosis of hearing loss can be very stressful for families,” Ms McNally said.
“There are many specialist appointments and the fitting of hearing aids or cochlear implants can be very overwhelming.”
Telethon Speech and Hearing’s Chatterbox early intervention program provides families with the tools to help their child discover their new world of sound and develop their speech and language.
Ms McNally said it was vital children with any degree of hearing loss accessed early intervention services as soon as possible.
“If your child doesn’t respond to noise or their name, has difficulty listening in noisy environments, is slower to respond to questions or has a loud voice, we recommend you have their hearing tested by an audiologist,” she said.
There are two types of hearing loss that commonly occur in children. Permanent sensorineural hearing loss occurs at birth often without a known cause, and temporary conductive hearing loss in children is most commonly caused by middle ear infections.
Hearing aids or cochlear impacts are typically the next step after diagnosis; however, Ms McNally said while this technology was a great starting point, to fully access this new world of sound children needed to learn to listen.
“Hearing aids and cochlear impacts give you the ability to hear, but early intervention gives you the ability to listen and learn,” she said.
“If you can listen, you can learn to speak and communicate.”
Telethon Speech and Hearing’s early intervention program takes a family-centred approach that focuses on all areas of the child’s development, families work closely with an allied health team that includes auditory verbal therapists, speech pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists and psychologists.
“Families attend individual sessions that focus on their child’s listening, speech and language development as well as a group program with similar aged peers,” she said.
Through working with other parents, as well as industry professionals, Ms McNally said families felt supported and educated throughout every step in their child’s journey.
Signs your newborn may be experiencing hearing loss:
- Unresponsive to noise (music, voices, sounds).
- Are not soothed by soft sounds.
- Not startled by sudden loud noises.
- Aren’t quietened by the sound of a familiar voice.
- You may just have a gut feeling.
The Telethon Speech and Hearing Chatterbox early intervention program helps families manage their child’s hearing loss by providing support and guidance as well as monitoring the child’s development. Find out more about our program.
Article first published on PerthNow.