Good Health : Early Heard = Early Word

by 78209 Magazine | March 1, 2022 | Good Health

Early Heard = Early Word

Early Identification and Intervention for Hearing Loss in Babies

By Lindsay Rodriguez, Sunshine Cottage Parent-Infant Advisor

As Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children celebrates its 75th anniversary, we look back and see how the evolution and development of technology have been the driving force in the success of our children. Technology has touched all aspects of our lives. In the field of children’s hearing loss, the impact of new developments has been felt most profoundly. Prior to legislation in 1999, when a baby was born with a hearing loss, parents often did not learn of their child’s hearing loss until the baby was two or three years old. By the time the loss was identified, opportunities for some children were limited and challenging.

With the passing of the universal newborn screening legislation (1999) requiring all babies to receive hearing screenings prior to leaving the hospital, hearing loss in children is being identified much earlier. 

A child should be screened for hearing loss by the time the baby is one month old, preferably before the family leaves the hospital after the birth. When a baby does not pass that screen, the next step is to identify that the hearing loss is present through a full hearing diagnostic screening by three months of age. An audiologist will perform an Auditory Brain Response test to determine the type and degree of hearing loss and the best course of action. The team of specialized Pediatric Audiologists at Sunshine Cottage School provides this service. By the time the baby is six months old, she should be enrolled in early intervention services and be fitted with the appropriate hearing technology. Sunshine Cottage School has a well-established Parent-Infant Program with highly trained Certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialists. They work in conjunction with the family and the Pediatric Audiologists to guide the family along the necessary steps of their hearing journey. The school also has a Hearing Aid Loaner Program so that families may immediately borrow the hearing technology they need for their baby. 

Suppose a family can accomplish 1-3-6 for their baby. In that case, the chances of developing hearing abilities and spoken language are highly enhanced, allowing the child to succeed in a world that relies on the spoken word. Families in Sunshine Cottage Parent-Infant Program learn how to facilitate and nurture listening and spoken language in their babies. They can take advantage of the fastest period of brain cell growth in human life: a baby’s brain is a quarter of adult size at birth and doubles in size in the first year, and is 90% of adult size by age 5. It is vitally important to give babies with hearing loss full access to sound as soon as possible; research shows that the primary window for stimulating the auditory neural pathways in the brain is from birth to six months. 

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Two to three babies born daily in Texas are found to be deaf or hard of hearing. Failure to identify hearing challenges before six months of age impacts the development of language, literacy, and learning potential, creating a developmental emergency. The key to academic, social, and communication success for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing is indeed early identification and intervention.

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At 78209 Magazine, we have our finger on the pulse of these communities located in the heart of San Antonio. Our staff of talented writers and photographers is dedicated to bringing you quality content that spotlights the local residents, businesses, lifestyles, and culture of the neighborhoods that make up the ’09 area. From political issues to restaurant openings, if it’s happening in 78209, we want you to know.

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