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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Young children use all their senses-especially hearing-to explore their world. Temporary or permanent hearing loss may follow frequent ear infections, injuries, or disease.  Hearing loss can slow language development and lead to other learning problems.  In Illinois, the law requires all hospitals to test hearing in newborns.  All preschools and licensed child care centers are required to screen children 3 years old or older every year.  Parents and teachers also play an important role in identifying children who may need further screening.

What are the signs of normal hearing development?

  • By 3 months, an infant responds to a parent's voice by becoming more alert. A 6-month-old turns toward a sound.
  • At 12 months, a baby begins to imitate sounds and may say a few words, such as "mama" or "bye."
  • Around 2 years, a toddler understands action words, such as "run," and can follow simple spoken directions.

Ask your health care provider for a hearing checklist or obtain free information by calling the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at 1-800-638-8255.

What are some common signs of hearing loss?

  • A child with hearing loss may seem inattentive or resistant.
  • He may misunderstand words or seem to hear some sounds but not others.
  • She may turn a television or radio at a louder level than family or friends prefer.
  • She may not seem to remember well or may not speak clearly.

What should I do if I suspect a child has hearing loss?

Ask the nurse consultant available through your child care program or your child's health care provider if screening by a trained professional might be needed.

How important is treatment?

Early treatment can make a lifelong difference. Research shows that children born with hearing loss usually can begin school with normal language and learning skills if appropriate care is begun by 6 months of age. Treatment can include finding the underlying cause; making environmental changes; and providing training, exercises, hearing aids, or surgery. Treat any hearing loss quickly to avoid hearing-related learning and social problems.

January 2006

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The opinions, resources, and referrals provided in this Tip Sheet are intended for information purposes only and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise parents to seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider with questions regarding their child’s health or medical conditions.

Disclaimer

The opinions, resources, and referrals provided on the IEL Web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to take the place of medical or legal advice, or of other appropriate services. We encourage you to seek direct local assistance from a qualified professional if necessary before taking action.

The content of the IEL Web site does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education.

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