Hearing Impairment

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What to expect

Hearing Impairment

Hearing i mpairment (also known as hearing loss) is the inability to hear sounds properly or to not hear sound at all. Hearing loss can be congenital (present from birth) or acquired later in life. Hearing loss can range from mild to severe and affect an individual's ability to communicate effectively, in both their receptive (understanding) and expressive (verbal) communication.

Speech and language therapy will help to improve and support an individual's communication. In more severe cases of hearing impairment the speech and language therapist may introduce alternative forms of communication.

What is hearing impairment?

Hearing impairment is the inability to hear sounds properly or not hear sound at all. There are two main types of hearing impairment which include:

Conductive hearing impairment

Conductive hearing impairment is any disruption to the transmission of sound from the inner to the outer ear. This can involve the inner, middle and outer ear structures. Conductive hearing impairment can be either temporary or permanent.

Sensorineural hearing impairment

Sensorineural hearing impairment is any damage to the inner ear; this causes disruption to the pathway where the sound impulses are converted into nerve signals. Sensorineural hearing impairment most commonly occurs from birth, it can however be acquired later on in life.

Hearing impairment can result in a variety of communication difficulties. A hearing impairment can affect an individual's receptive (understanding) and expressive (verbal) language and also their ability to produce speech sounds correctly.

What causes hearing impairment?

There are many different causes of hearing impairment. Common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Exposure to sudden loud noise
  • Common cold or allergies
  • Ear infection
  • Medication
  • Head trauma or trauma to the ear drum
  • Genetic conditions
  • Disease or infections

What problems caused by hearing impairment can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy will help with the following problems, which can be a result of a hearing impairment:

The speech and language therapist will provide an individualised therapy programme which will be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of the individual with the hearing impairment.

How does speech and language therapy help hearing impairment?

Speech and language therapy helps individuals with hearing impairment to communicate more effectively. Speech and language therapy will provide an initial assessment to determine the type and severity of the communication problems caused by the hearing impairment. An initial assessment will also help the therapist in deciding what the best treatment will be for the individual. The speech and language therapist will provide treatment, advice and support in helping to maximise an individual's communication.

Benefits of speech and language therapy include:

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