Hearing loss will affect a child's ability to effectively understand or follow spoken language. A hearing loss may impact on a child's speech and language abilities, this can be helped by speech and language therapy.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is the partial or complete loss of hearing. A child with hearing loss will have difficulty understanding spoken language. This difficulty may be mild to severe, and will depend on the cause and severity of the hearing loss.
In children, there are two types of hearing loss congenital (present at birth) and acquired (hearing loss that occurs after birth). A child may have either conductive or sensorineural hearing loss (or a mix of both).
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineaural hearing loss occurs when the cochlea (inner ear) or the nerve pathways from the cochlea are damaged. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is when the sound will not travel properly from the outer ear to the inner ear. This is often caused by a blockage in the ear.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss in children?
The symptoms of hearing loss in children will vary and depend on the severity and also the cause of their hearing loss. A common sign of hearing loss in children is delayed speech and language and the inability to follow verbal instructions.
There are four levels of hearing impairment which can result in speech and language difficulty these include mild, moderate, severe and profound deafness. Children with mild and moderate deafness may have difficulty following spoken language in noisy environments or when they have not got their hearing aid(s) in. Children with severe and profound deafness will often rely on sign language or lip reading in order to communicate.
Hearing loss may affect the child's ability to understand and produce spoken language.
What causes hearing loss in children?
The two main types of hearing loss in children are congenital (from birth) or acquired (occurs after birth). These two types of hearing loss can occur as the result of disease, disorder or injury.
What problems caused by hearing loss in children can speech and language therapy help with?
Difficulties in speech and language experienced by children with hearing loss can be helped by speech and language therapy. Difficulties in speech and language as a result of hearing loss can include:
- Speech sound problems
- Comprehension problems
- Expressive language problems
- Attention and listening problems
- Communication problems
- Language Delay and impairment
How are speech and language difficulties as a result of a hearing loss identified in children?
An audiologist will be able to diagnose if a child has a hearing loss. If a child with a hearing loss has additional speech and language difficulties the speech and language therapist will carry out an assessment of their speech and language. A child may initially be referred to a speech and language therapist with concerns over speech and language delay. The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment to identify any speech and language difficulties.
If the child has not previously had a hearing test then the speech and language therapist may refer them to an audiologist. Initial assessments carried out by a speech and language therapist will include:
- A case history of your child's development.
- A conversation with you about your child's speech and language skills and any concerns you may have.
- An observation of your child's speech and language abilities.
- A more thorough assessment of your child's speech and language skills e.g. asking your child to follow verbal instructions, asking your child to name pictures.
How does speech and language therapy help children with hearing loss?
Speech and language therapy will improve the communication of a child with a hearing loss. The main aim of speech and language therapy for a child with a hearing loss will be to help them communicate as effectively as possible. Specific aims of speech and language therapy will depend on the severity and cause of your child's hearing loss.
Speech and language therapy may work on your child's receptive language (understanding) and also their expressive (verbal and written) language. Speech and language therapy will help to improve and maximise your child's communication.
For children with severe and profound hearing loss, the speech and language therapist may work on alternative forms of communication including sign language and visual prompts.
What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with hearing loss involve?
The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment. This assessment will identify the areas and severity of the speech and language difficulties caused by the child's hearing loss. Speech and language therapy after this point may include:
- one to one therapy
- clinic visits
- home visits
- consultative role
- alternative and augmentative communication
- advice and education
- early intervention
If you would like any more information on our speech and language therapy service, and would like to know more about the benefits of speech and language therapy for children with hearing loss and impairment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 0885 643.
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