When a child learns to speak, it’s an exciting developmental milestone for parents.
The first time your child says “mama” or “dada” is a time for parents to feel great pride and joy, so if your kid doesn’t start to speak according to expected timelines, there can be cause for worry.
One reason for not speaking when expected could be due to hearing impairment.
We’re District Speech, a children’s speech therapists serving Washington DC and area, and if your child isn’t meeting expected timelines for speaking, we can help assess the reasons for this and offer interventions to help get them back on track.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Hearing Impairment?
Hearing impairment or hearing loss is when there is a problem with a child’s hearing, which can range from mild to extreme.
Hearing loss can impact a variety of areas including:
- Social skills, making it difficult to make friends
- Reading and other skills which can affect school performance
- Delayed speech and language
- Poor self image
Individuals with mildly impaired hearing can understand a general overview of what is being said, but can often miss details, and have trouble concentrating if the environment is noisy.
If a child is deaf, on the other hand, they are not able to hear anything at all.
Hearing loss can range anywhere from mildly impaired to complete deafness.
How Does Hearing Impairment Affect Speech Development?
Being able to hear others speak is a large part of how children learn to speak themselves.
If a child isn’t able to hear the adults in their life speak, it can have an impact on their speech development.
Some sounds can be more difficult for children with hearing loss to hear, for instance “th”, “s”, “sh” and “t”.
These are sounds which are frequently used in the English language, which means not being able to hear them can result in trouble hearing sounds, understanding those around them, and following direction.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help With Hearing Loss?
If your child is having speech delays due to hearing loss, a speech therapist can help them learn to speak clearly and develop their listening skills.
Goals of speech therapy for children with hearing loss include:
- Early diagnosis of hearing loss or impairment
- Learning to use hearing devices
- Helping the child gain confidence and independence
- Having parents and other caregivers participate in treatment
Keep reading for more information on some of the ways a speech therapist can help children with hearing impairments.
1. Deciding On A Sound Amplification Device
The technology behind devices to help amplify hearing is constantly improving.
A licensed audiologist can help you determine the best type of amplification device and help make sense of the options.
For instance, they can help you understand the difference between hearing aids and cochlear implants, and the best situations to use each.
Your speech therapist may advise you what they think may be beneficial, and from there can refer you to an audiologist.
2. Deciding On Speech Vs. Sign Language
The question of whether to use speech or sign language is a very personal and individual one which each family will need to consider.
Some will choose solely a speech or auditory-verbal approach, others may opt for sign language only.
When using an auditory approach, children are not taught to use visual cues such as sign language.
Listening skills are heavily emphasized, as children learn to speak by listening to those around them.
This approach may not work as well for children with extreme hearing loss.
Families who use a sign language only approach will teach the child to communicate using sign language exclusively.
This is common for families with deaf parents or caregivers and is mostly used within the Deaf Community.
3. Other Speech Therapy Solutions
There are a number of approaches to helping hearing impaired kids which can be considered combination approaches, which include aspects of both speech therapy and visual cues, such as sign language.
These approaches can also include pictures, and as the child is old enough to understand it, written language.
Simultaneous communication is when spoken language and sign language are used together.
Although this method provides both auditory and visual cues for children to follow, it is also known for having higher rates of grammatical errors.
Another method is “total communication”.
This is similar to simultaneous communication, in that it uses speech and sign language together, however, it also means you will get the point across by “any means necessary”.
This could mean incorporating visual cues, media, pictures, and other technology.
The benefit to total communication is that it ensures messages are clear and accessible.
Book An Appointment With District Speech
Are you worried your child is showing signs of hearing impairment?
Do you have concerns because they aren’t developing speech at the same rate as their peers?
Early intervention is especially important in these cases to help them learn to speak and communicate with the world around them.
We’re District Speech, professional speech therapists serving Washington DC and surrounding area.
One of our experienced and professional speech therapists can assess the extent of hearing impairment and help develop a plan to address any issues.
Contact us today with any further questions, or to set up an appointment.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.