Hearing loss can occur in one ear or both. It could be temporary or permanent and it could range from a mild to a profound loss. It is vital to have a hearing loss diagnosed as early as possible and to immediately provide the necessary intervention in order to facilitate communication. If these steps are not taken, language development and the acquisition of speech, in the case of babies and very young children, will be affected.

Indications of hearing loss in babies and young children

  • no reaction to loud noise;
  • are not awakened by a loud noise or voices close to them;
  • are not soothed when spoken to by their mother;
  • show no reaction to whispers
  • do not make cooing sounds when they are about eight weeks old;
  • are not able to locate the source of a sound between the age of three to six months;
  • at about six months of age, they do not make babbling sounds which are considered to be the first steps to speech;
  • are not able to imitate sounds uttered by others (e.g. animal sounds);
  • do not respond when called by name at about two years of age, there is no indication of using language to communicate with (e.g. they do not repeat words they hear, they do not utter sounds that can be identified with spoken words, they do not start joining words together to formulate utterances of two or more words);
  • make no reaction when spoken to in a very low voice;
  • often say, “Eh!” or “What?” when spoken to make no response when instructions are given, especially if spoken to from a distance or when there is background noise around them;
  • frequently ask to have the TV volume turned up;
  • indicate that they hear better from one ear than the other.

The degree of hearing loss varies from one person to another. One can observe different indications from the above list depending on the degree and type of hearing loss. In any case the best thing to do is to seek professional advice. Your GP can refer you to have the hearing of your child tested by an audiologist.