Deafness (also known as hearing loss) can be both a permanent or temporary condition, and can be caused by a range of factors.
Some children may have normal hearing at birth but go on to experience temporary deafness (perhaps due to ‘glue ear’, where congestion behind the ear drum prevents the drum moving effectively). More unusually, a small number of children may experience a progressive hearing loss, where hearing may decline over time.
Hearing is essential for developing spoken language skills. All newborn babies are offered a hearing screening assessment. Sometimes there’s an unclear result that requires follow up. This doesn’t automatically mean that a child has hearing problems.
When a hearing impairment is identified, our Audiology team will work with the family.
You might notice that when your child is awake and alert, they’re persistently not responding to sounds in the environment.
You might notice:
This is, of course, in the context of babies/young toddlers often becoming quite absorbed in one activity, so try observing them in different situations.
Also, be aware that children don’t always turn to explore what a sound is. They may indicate they have heard a sound by becoming still, smiling or crying.
If you notice your child’s hearing fluctuating, for example being worse when they have a cold, then do what you can to manage background noise when speaking together or reading stories. For example, turn off the TV or radio.
All babies and toddlers benefit hugely from being face to face and having adults communicating with them at their eye level. This is especially important for any babies or children suspected of having a hearing loss.
Using gestures and action rhymes can be helpful in supporting early communication, especially at a time when your child’s hearing status is unclear and/or they’re having difficulty responding to sounds.
Discuss any concerns you have with your Health Visitor.
The 9 month and 2 year reviews provide opportunities to meet with a member of the Health Visiting Team to discuss a range of developmental areas. However, you don’t have to wait for these opportunities. If you have concerns about your child’s hearing at other times, you can contact your Health Visitor or GP to ask them to refer your child for a hearing assessment.
They may encourage you to make further observations in different listening situations and/or refer your child to Audiology for an assessment.
You can find additional support online by visiting: