Are there times when you are so irritated by your child’s stubbornness that your temper matches the raised level of the television volume? Or, do you frequently get complaints of your child being unresponsive and ‘inattentive’ in class? Does it seem that however hard you try, your words fall on deaf ears?
Well, maybe they are falling on deaf ears. Quite literally so. Playfulness and complaints from the school were true for even the most genius brains in history. However, if it has become too frequent, it is best for you to consider reasons beyond the willfulness of your child for this.
“But, my spouse and I hear perfectly well!”
How can your child be hard of hearing, right? Statistics depict a completely different picture. About 2-3 in every 1000 American children are born with some degree of loss of hearing in either or both the ears. On an average, by the age of three, 5 out of every 6 children experience otitis media (an ear infection that may cause hearing loss.) And, more than 90% of hearing-impaired children have hearing parents!
How does hearing loss manifest in your child?
Hearing loss can be caused due to a host of reasons ranging from congenital reasons to mild infections. Some of the reasons for loss of hearing in children can be:
- Congenital Reasons: It can be due to a gene from one or both of the parents (in the case of hearing parents they may be hidden genes that combine to cause deafness), infections (e.g. herpes, rubella) transmitted from the pregnant mother or due to premature delivery.
- Infections: Middle ear infections like otitis media affects more than 75% of children before they turn three. Infections are usually accompanied by pain and fever, although asymptomatic episodes are not unknown. Look for signs of irritability or constant itching of ears in your child to suspect a possible infection.
- Illness and Medications: Many viral diseases like chickenpox, mumps, and influenza are also known to cause deafness in children. Moreover, certain medications that are used to treat cancer or severe infections have been found to be ototoxic and harm the auditory system.
- Injuries or Trauma: In unfortunate accidents that involve head injuries, sometimes there may be an injury to the hearing apparatus or the nerves associated with it that could lead to hearing impairment. Exposure to loud noises ( such as loud music or sound of fireworks) can also lead to hearing loss.
Wondering how to help your little one?
As you must observe, the onset of hearing loss happens at quite an early age, sometimes even since birth. Thus, it may be very difficult for the child to describe or even know how to differentiate sound from silence. With the language proficiency not yet developed, they are unable to fathom their situation and communicate it to you. As dutiful parents, you must follow these:
It is imperative that you stay vigilant and look for any possible signs that may indicate a loss of hearing. If your child wants the television louder than the comfortable levels, misinterprets directions or orders, is inattentive or irritable or keeps scratching his ears, you must see a hearing professional.
Establish Effective Communication
Providing effective communication in the early stages of the disease goes a long way in ensuring better cognitive, social, and mental development of the child. This includes usage of sign language to communicate with the family as well.
Be Their Support System
Dealing with such situations as parents can b overwhelming and there will be the odd day when you just want them to ‘listen’ to you and turn down the tv volume. Before you raise your voice, think twice. Research has shown that hard-of-hearing kids are more prone to emotional and behavioral mental disorders. One act of anger could wilt the seedling that you have nurtured thus far!
Get It Treated
We are so overpowered by the social apprehensions and stigma attached to the disease that we forget that most forms of deafness can be treated or at least, improved. The use of hearing aids is not unknown and now, with the advancement in treatment modalities, even cochlear implants can be placed to correct hearing apparatus defects. Also, there are amplification devices called FM systems that can be used in classrooms or even at homes to cancel the noise in a group setting.
Hearing loss can have a multifaceted effect on a child’s social, cognitive, and mental development. As responsible parents, you need to understand that early detection is the key to ensuring that your child gets the required support and help in time. So, the next time your child doesn’t listen to you, try to listen to their unspoken words instead!