Little Ava was three when she developed a double ear infection so bad that her dad had to take her to the emergency room. What the single dad of two girls didn’t know at the time was that the infection would destroy Ava’s ability to hear.

As she began to feel better, he started to notice she wasn’t speaking much. And, she often ignored him when he called her from across the room.

That’s when he took her to the family physician for a follow-up appointment. Seeing the signs, their physician immediately referred Ava to my office. Testing determined she had moderate child hearing loss in her left ear and profound hearing loss in her right ear.

Cases of hearing loss in kids are as unique as our children who develop them. The causes of hearing loss in babies and children are not always uniform, but some signs are helpful for understanding whether your child may be suffering from hearing loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together a great list of warning signs for babies and children hearing loss. What you should look for varies by age, and parents must understand these subtle age-related differences to avoid missing a red flag.

Babies hearing loss signs:

  • Don’t “jump” at loud noises
  • Fails to turn toward the source of a loud noise once the child can physically do so (around six months)
  • Doesn’t say basic words by age one (think: dada, mama)
  • Looks toward you when you move into their range of vision but ignores you when you say their name
  • Seems to hear some things but not others

Signs of hearing loss in kids:

  • Delayed speech
  • Unclear speaking
  • Can’t follow basic directions
  • Says, “Huh?”, “What?”
  • Plays video games or watches TV too loud
  • Misses learning milestones like playing well with others, etc.

Signs of youth (tweens and teens) hearing problems:

Tweens and teens may show signs like the above, but there are other signs to look for in this age group, as well:

  • Complaints about buzzing, humming, or ringing sounds that you can’t hear
  • Speaking loudly in a quiet room
  • Turning the TV/Music too loud (parents, this is both a sign and cause)
  • Wearing earbuds frequently, which can increase risk of hearing loss more than over-the-ear headphones
  • Slipping grades
  • Anger management issues
  • Isolating from friends
  • “Ignoring” you when you call their name

Unfortunately, because many of these are stereotypical teen behaviors, parents may not realize youth hearing problems are the culprit. So choose a calm time, not in the middle of an argument, to ask them what they’re experiencing.

Testing your child’s hearing:

Hearing tests don’t hurt. And many children will even find them fun. Little Ava certainly enjoyed the attention she received from my staff and me. We were able to fit her with hearing aids that addressed the level of hearing loss in each ear. With regular speech therapy, she’s been able to overcome early deficits and learn to hear and communicate.If your child is having any of these signs of child hearing loss, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

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