The sense of hearing during the infancy and toddler years is the most difficult to assess. Hearing loss among children aged 0 to 3 years old is not readily detectable due to the fact that interaction using aural sensory is very limited at this point of children’s development years. Unlike eyesight, which could offer obvious developmental stages, hearing is always coupled with language and speaking development which would only be evident in the later part of the toddler years.
In managing the sensory development of children, parents should be very conscious of signs of hearing loss within these crucial years. The most simple among the symptoms is if babies or toddlers do not have any reactions to loud and stressful sounds in their surroundings. For babies and toddlers without such reactions as crying or looking at the direction of the source of the sound, hearing loss might be impending. Also, if the symptoms are still not that obvious, they might never be detected unless with the use of a hearing aid to see any changes to their reaction to sound.
There are few reasons why hearing loss happens at this early stage of child development. The first would be infections that have happened in the womb or even after birth. Any viral infection that may have caused sickness to the mother while she is pregnant can affect her baby’s aural development after birth.
Second, premature birth could also be a big factor in hindering sensory development among infants and children. Babies who are born before the last few weeks of pregnancy have a higher risk of experiencing under-development of brain or nervous system functions. Prematurely born babies are also more prone to infections that could affect development even when these infections have been overcome.
Third, is the intake of ototoxic medication, liquor and even smoking while pregnant may affect the development of the baby’s senses. Babies who are also exposed to or have ingested unsuitable medication can have hearing loss.
Lastly hearing loss can be a symptom of bigger problems such as genetic syndromes or disorders in the child’s brain or nervous system. It is better to check the medical history of both parents to see any genetic lineage of such syndromes and disorders so that early intervention can be done during the most crucial years.
If you do see any symptoms of hearing loss on your child, do not be afraid to consult a pediatrician or an ear specialist for children to have a check-up and hearing tests be done on your child. Early interventions like a hearing aid or minor surgical operations can be done to avoid impairing the development of your child’s speech in line with his or her hearing.
Remember that it is never too late to prevent your child’s hearing loss with the proper precaution and sound medical advice. Consider yourself and your child fortunate that you can act on the long term potential of hearing loss while your infant or toddler is still within his or her developmental years. Always consult your doctor for proper testing and intervention.