Two to three children out of every 1000 are born with hearing loss, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14.9% of children 6 to 19 years of age have some hearing loss in one or both ears. Whether this hearing loss is the result of genetics, birth complications, head injuries, medications or something else, experts agree that early identification and intervention is crucial to a child’s development and success.
What researchers are now realizing, though, is that simply identifying and treating may not be the most critical piece of the success puzzle. That piece may actually be family engagement.
Managing hearing loss in children
Over recent years, many changes have been made to identify hearing loss in children as early as possible. Newborns are now routinely screened at birth, with more comprehensive testing always being considered, and interventions often put into place by the time a child is six months old.
In most cases these interventions or treatment plans include speech therapy, assistive listening devices, hearing aids or even a cochlear implant.
Experts now understand that merely treating the hearing loss from a physical and developmental point of view may not be enough. It’s really family engagement that can make all the difference in how effective a treatment plan really is both as children grow and later on into adulthood.
Family support for children with hearing loss
Whether it’s advocating and making informed decisions for their child with hearing loss or simply spending more time reading and talking with them to foster communication and promote language development, how engaged a family is is proving to be a game-changer. In fact, some hearing health programs are entirely rethinking how they work with families and redesigning their programs to foster that engagement.
The University of Miami Children’s Hearing Program, for example, has created teams that not only include hearing healthcare professionals and therapists but also psychologists, social workers, and educational specialists. These teams develop personalized programs for each child offering unique and comprehensive support to families as they navigate the ups and downs of their child’s hearing loss.
What you can do for your child
While not every program includes such comprehensive care, there are things that you and your family can do to stay involved, engaged and support your child for the best treatment results including:
Give your child with hearing loss a strong foundation and the best outcomes when you stay engaged with their treatment plan.
If you believe your child may have a hearing loss, schedule a hearing evaluation now. Early diagnosis and treatment can set them up for success now and in the years to come.