Think about the first time you saw your child. Did you smile at him? Cry happy tears when you saw his tiny, scrunched-up face? Reach out for him to take your finger in his little hand? All of these are forms of communication that allow you to connect with your child right from the start. As he grows older, verbal communication becomes more and more important as he learns about his family, his home and the world around him.
There are two parts to verbal communication. One, of course, is speech itself. The other is the auditory piece. Speech delays can be apparent fairly early on, but if your child has an auditory challenge, that may not be obvious without evaluation by a qualified audiologist.
Some auditory challenges, such as significant hearing loss, can be pretty easy to detect: Your child might not turn her head toward you when you speak, or may not react to an unexpected loud noise. This gives you a clue early on that intervention might be necessary, and a trip to the audiologist is in order.
Other challenges, such as auditory processing disorder (APD), can be tougher to detect. In some cases, your child can hear just fine, but the information gets kind of scrambled between the ear and the brain. Remember that old party game, “telephone”? Everyone sits in a circle and one person whispers a phrase into the ear of the person next to him, who whispers what he heard to the person on his other side, and so on until the last person says aloud the phrase he heard. With each step, the words can get distorted: you’re hearing them, but not quite the way they were meant to be heard. The game can have hilarious results, as “Sophie ate a piece of cake” ultimately ends up being heard as “Go be at a cheesy lake.” APD isn’t quite so funny, but the results can be similar. Your child might hear the word “cat” just like it sounds, but it always comes out like “tack.” It can be difficult for kids with APD to follow multiple-step directions, or to understand tone of voice. This can lead to misunderstandings and social difficulties, not to mention a great deal of frustration for you and your child as you struggle to communicate.
The good news is, these are not insurmountable challenges. A qualified audiologist can evaluate your child’s hearing, explain any problems that might be present, and help you make a plan for therapy and treatment that can help your child understand language and communicate to the best of his ability. This can mean visits with other specialists to determine the source of the hearing loss or difficulty, speech therapies, educational adaptations, devices such as hearing aids or other amplification tools, and more.
Some children have auditory challenges right from birth; others develop difficulties well into their childhood years. No matter when you begin to suspect that your child is having auditory difficulties, we can help. For more information on auditory challenges, visit our site at CarolinaPeds.com, then give us a call and let’s talk about what we can do to help meet your child’s audiological needs. Success is right around the corner, just waiting to be heard.
Appointments for evaluations are available for scheduling at 828-670-8056. Please contact your child’s physician for a referral. Click here, for more information on Carolina Pediatric Therapy’s Audiology program.
Is an Auditory Evaluation Right for Your Child?
-April Fox, Staff Writer
Carolina Pediatric Therapy © December 2013