Normal hearing is essential for the development of speech and language as well as interpersonal and social communication skills during childhood. In addition, 0 to 6 years of early life is the golden period for speech and language development. Thus, hearing impairment during childhood may hinder child’s language acquisition, learning, social skills and emotional behavioral response development.
Auditory Development of Children
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Symptoms of Children Hearing Loss
Mild hearing impairment may be difficult to detect. However, parents and/or care takers may have some ideas about a child’s hearing by observing his/her behaviors in daily life. The following are some indicators of hearing impairment in children:
(Reference: Student Health Service, Department of Health)
1. Ear Discomfort
- Earache or ear block
- Constantly pulling or scratching ear(s)
- Ear discharge or being smelly
- Tinnitus (ringing or noise in ear(s) or head)
2. Difficulty in hearing or understanding others in the following situations:
- Someone speaks softly or not facing the child
- Far away from sound sources (as in at the back of classroom) or in noisy places
3. Showing following behavior(s) in class:
- Tends to lean forward, turns head to one side or pay extra attention to the speaker’s face while listening
- Difficulty locating the sound source
- Often requests for repetition by saying “Pardon?” or “Say that again”, “Could you repeat’’ during a conversation
- Poor attention or easily distracted in class
- Delayed responses to verbal instructions during group activities, or responds only after watching others’ responses
- Missing ‘s’ at the end of a sentence or word during dictation
- Poorer performance in subjects relying on listening
4. Speech and language & social skills
- Confuses words with similar sounds e.g. ‘sin’ and ‘tin’, ‘sick’ and ‘shake’, ‘ship’ and ‘chip’
- Unclear speech
- Delayed speech and/or language development
- Prefers staying alone and is not willing to participate in group activities
Does your child hear normally?
Pediatric Hearing Aids
Frequency Modulation (FM) System
Frequency Modulation (FM) system is an effective assistive listening device uses in conjunction with hearing aids or cochlear implants to facilitate better speech and sound reception by overcoming undesirable listening environment in classroom, including high background noise (which could as high as 65 dB), sound attenuation due to lengthen distance and reverberation, through direct transmission of speech to the hearing-impaired student’s hearing device.
FM System composes of two parts:
- Microphone and Transmitter (carried by teacher or speaker)
- Receiver (attaches to hearing aid or cochlear implant)
Advantages of Using FM System
- Enhance Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)
If the distance between microphone of the transmitter is limited to 6 inches or less from the speaker’s mouth, no matter where in the classroom the hearing-impaired child is sitting, he could hear as if the teacher is speaking next to him.
- Extend reception range, good for outdoor use.
- Each FM system has its own channel and will not be interfered by another system in the neighboring classroom
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device from people with severe-to-profound hearing loss whereas hearing aids could not meet his/her amplification needs.
Cochlear implant consists of two components:
- External speech processor (hang behind the pinna)
- Internal electrode placed in the cochlea
It works by transforming sounds into electrical signals that directly stimulate the auditory nerve (Cranial Nerve VIII) bypassing damaged hair cells in the cochlear.
Candidacy of cochlear implant has to be determined by a professional team involving otolaryngologists and audiologists to undergo a series of assessment.