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New Study Examines Social Development of Children With Hearing Loss

by April Maguire

In recent years, it has become standard practice for doctors to perform a hearing test shortly after an infant is born, and these postnatal hearing exams save a lot of money. According to the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, early detection of hearing problems and proper intervention can save roughly $400,000 in education costs by the time a child reaches high school graduation. But how do children with mild-to-severe hearing disabilities develop socially when compared to their peers? Recently, a team of researchers conducted a four-year-long study in order to examine that exact issue.

The Study

For the study, researchers recruited a group of more than 315 children who suffer from hearing loss and tracked their development for four years. In addition to looking at kids over a wide range of ages – from six months old to around eight years old – the scientists also recruited children from 17 different states. To serve as a control group, the researchers also tracked the social development of roughly 120 children whose hearing is in the normal range.

Over the course of the research project, the researchers met with each of the kids once or twice a year and interviewed them about their favorite activities, their friends and their experiences in school. Additionally, the scientists also observed the children as they read books or played games, and evaluated their performance. Also, once a year, parents were given questionnaires concerning their child’s development and hearing loss treatment regimen.

The Fit is Key

Ultimately, the researchers found that children, who were developing slower, fell into two distinct categories. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the main causes for slower development was children not consistently wearing their assistive devices, such as hearing aids. The other cause, however, was a bit more of a surprise. While a number of children involved in the study routinely wore their hearing aids, the researchers discovered that the devices did not fit properly. According to the study, not wearing hearing aids at all, or wearing devices that are ill-fitting, both resulted in delayed language development and depressed social skills.

When it comes to helping children who suffer from hearing loss, simply acquiring hearing-assistive devices is not the end of the battle. As the study shows, parents need to monitor their kids to make sure the devices are being worn and routinely check in with an audiologist to make sure that the devices are calibrated correctly. By following these simple steps, parents can go a long way towards helping children with hearing loss develop normally.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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