Hearing is a bit like using any muscle in your body – if it’s not used then its functionality diminishes. So it is important for parts of the ears to be stimulated as early as possible. There is a critical window for speech and listening to develop in a child and that is ideally between birth and 3 years of age.
These days all babies should have their hearing tested within a few days of birth under the New Born Hearing Screening Programme. This is a non-invasive hearing test that measures whether a child’s brain is responding to sound. Further tests can be done later to determine if a child is hearing impaired and the level of hearing loss.
If you have a concern that your baby or toddler is not hearing things talk to your Plunket Nurse or GP about it. They can refer you on to have a proper hearing test with an audiologist. Sometimes children don’t have their hearing loss detected until after their child is supposed to start speaking so getting expert advice is really important.
Auditory-Verbal Therapy is a speciality that teaches a hearing impaired child firstly how to listen and then how to speak. Its aim is to help even profoundly deaf children to develop natural sounding speech and language so that these children can fully participate in the hearing world.
Find out more about early intervention: New Born Screening