Hearing is extremely important for speech and language development. In Ontario all babies have their hearing screened at birth. This has led to hearing impaired babies being fitted with hearing aids at a few months of age. Most of these babies develop speech and language at a normal rate. 20 years ago too many deaf babies were not diagnosed until after the age of 2 years when they showed signs of language delay.
Many hearing parents today are teaching their hearing babies sign language to help them communicate earlier. Babies find it easier to learn a few signs to communicate their needs.
Some children (and adults!) have normal hearing but have difficulty understanding speech especially in noisy or distracting places. This is a sign of auditory processing disorder. Children with auditory processing disorder often have difficulty hearing in noisy classrooms and their academic progress can suffer. Audiologists have a battery of tests to determine if auditory processing disorders are present. If so, we can make recommendations to help the child cope in the classroom. Some clinics, like ours, have treatment programs which can help some children target basic auditory skill development. Our program is called “Becoming Better Listeners.”