Hearing: essential to communication

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Hearing: essential to communication
Hearing: essential to communication

About 1 to 6 out of 1000 babies are born with hearing loss, the degree and nature of which can vary, and the cause of which is not always identifiable. Here are some facts about children's hearing.


The power of communication

Close your eyes for a moment and take the time to listen to your surroundings. Maybe you hear your computer running, traffic noise outside, or children playing in the neighborhood? Our hearing allows us, often without our realizing it, to keep constant contact with our environment. It also allows us to perform one of the most important roles in human relationships: that of being able to communicate.

Baby's first sounds

As soon as the fetus reaches 20 weeks of gestation, it begins to live its first sound experiences by hearing some noises coming from outside the uterus, and especially, the voice of its mother that it can thus recognize from birth. A veritable little sponge, babies store sound information about their environment right from the start. Thus, before having pronounced his first "mom", he will have created a whole repertoire ofsounds specific to their mother tongue and sound-object links (e.g. the barking of a dog) that they will be able to place later in the form of words.

What to do if you suspect baby can't hear?

It happens, however, that babies are unable to create this repertoire well, because they do not have the necessary tools to properly perceive the different sound stimuli: they do not hear them normally.

About 1 to 6 out of 1000 babies are born with hearing loss, the degree and nature of which can vary. Obviously, heredity is an important factor, but others such as prematurity, certain syndromes or congenital diseases, for example, can cause the child to have deafness at birth or to develop it later. In some children, the cause cannot be identified.

For children with deafness, reduced access to the sound world and to the repertoire of sounds specific to their mother tongue limits communication and the acquisition of speech and language. It is therefore important to quickly identify deafness and provide the child with the necessary tools to establish adequate communication. The same goes for his academic and social development.

How do I know if my child can hear well?

Obviously, if a child has a family history or another risk factor for deafness, a consultation is essential to assess their hearing. Typically, pediatricians are aware of these factors and refer babies for audiology evaluation. However, it happensthat no medical or family history predisposes the child to be deaf. In this case, parents are often the best judges of their child's hearing behavior. The slightest doubt about your child's hearing is reason enough to consult an audiologist.

To guide you, here are some clues of reactions that can be expected in a child with normal hearing:

  • 0 to 3 months: Startles to certain sudden loud noises should be observed.
  • 3 to 6 months: He begins to direct his gaze then his head in your direction. He is chirping more and more.
  • 6 to 8 months: He recognizes his name, smiles at the music.
  • 8 to 10 months: He tries to imitate certain sounds.
  • 10 to 18 months: He understands the words and tries to pronounce some of them. He gloats when you tell him about an activity he likes (ex. going for a walk)
  • 24 months: He shows his body parts at your request, even though he doesn't see your lips. He begins to make short sentences. He is interested in program themes, songs. It responds to simple instructions without adding gestures (e.g. pointing).
  • 4 years old: He understands complex instructions (eg go put on your sweater and bring me your boots).
  • 5 years: He should hear you when you whisper to him. He should speak easily, make sentences similar to yours andpronounce correctly (except maybe the "ch" or the "r").

If your child does not seem to exhibit the behaviors expected for his age, it may mean that he may have a hearing and/or language deficit. No point in delaying, talk to your pediatrician who will refer you to audiology so that he can benefit from a hearing evaluation. If in doubt about the possibility of deafness, tell yourself that it is better to consult and confirm that the hearing is normal than to wait and leave a child with a hearing loss without the help he needs. requires. The first years of a child's life are crucial for their communicative and social development. Don't waste them. The later deafness is identified, the greater the delays in different spheres of its development and will involve long-term impacts.

How does a hearing assessment work?

To the great surprise of many, there is no age limit for consulting in audiology. In fact, from birth, audiologists are able to perform measurements that do not involve the baby's collaboration and which make it possible to detect whether there is a presence of deafness or even to evaluate hearing in a more complete. All the tests carried out are painless for the child. As he grows, methods involving play are used to assess the child's hearing. You can consult the website of l'Ordre des orthophonistes et audiologistes du Québecto find where pediatric audiology services are offered in your area (hospital or private clinic).

In conclusion

Communication is essential to the development of every human being. Any doubts about a child's hearing should lead to an audiology evaluation. This will prevent language and social delays from accumulating.

For any child - whether deaf or not - the important thing is to offer them a stimulating environment where communication is at the center of interactions. Take the time to sit down with your child, have fun imitating sounds, looking at pictures in a book. Pay attention to his desires to communicate, sing songs with him. Remember, communication is a two-player game. Have fun!

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