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Baby Talk Linked To Hearing Ability

No, this doesn’t refer to the way that you talk to your baby, but rather the way that your baby talks to you. Cooing and babbling can actually show you how much your infant is hearing, and this can be a crucially important fact to take note of. Even after your new born has passed the infant hearing screening test to let you know whether or not they are responding to sound, there can still be problems with the outer, middle, or inner ear, which may result in a need for hearing aids, or more advanced treatments. A recent study has shown that infants with profound hearing loss soon reach their peers in regards to vocal levels and language development, and this can be seen through their own urge to chat.


Your Child’s First Year


During the first year of life your child learns a lot, and this is the same for listening and speaking functionality. They will grow from simply crying when they want something, to cooing when they want your attention. One thing that parents might notice is that if you have a child with profound hearing loss, the amount of baby babble is far less than that of a hearing baby. This makes sense as a baby who cannot hear does not recognize what they are saying or doing as language. There are ways to encourage more speaking, even if your child has problems hearing, by paying attention to the signals that they give you, and acknowledging their attempts at speaking. If you ignore a child who is speaking to you he or she may give up on trying to speak, but if you laugh, talk back, and smile at your child when they talk to you, even if they can’t hear your response, this encourages them to continue making those sounds and trying to communicate.


Cochlear Implants And Hearing Therapy


In the past if a child was diagnosed with severe or profound hearing loss or deafness there was nothing that could be done aside from learning and teaching sign language, but in this modern time the world is fortunate enough to have cochlear implants and hearing therapies designed to allow children and adults to hear. Just as your newborn baby hears and learns to communicate gradually, when your baby undergoes the cochlear surgery, it will take time for them to understand what language is. Even older children may not grasp sounds or try to repeat them for 3 to 6 months, the same as a new born hearing baby would. Science Daily says: “University of Missouri research shows that infant vocalizations are primarily motivated by infants' ability to hear their own babbling. Additionally, infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to help correct their hearing soon reached the vocalization levels of their hearing peers, putting them on track for language development.”


Hearing is obviously a very critical element in the forming of speech and language, and babies who are interested in speech like sounds can increase their babbling if they hear.


The Connection Between Infant Speech And Sound


A recent study included twenty-seven hearing infants and sixteen with profound hearing loss who were candidates for cochlear implants. What they found was that those with hearing loss didn’t babble and coo as much as those that could hear. They found that when the babies received cochlear implants they began to increase and their vocalization grew to the same level as their hearing counterparts. Something that is interesting in this study is that only speech sounds were affected, and the infant’s ability to laugh, cry and blow raspberries with their lips was still the same between hearing and non-hearing infants. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, and has had a large amount of positive feedback. Lead author Fagan is quoted by the University of Missouri News in saying: “Babies learn so much through sound in the first year of their lives. We know learning from others is important to infants’ development, but hearing allows infants to explore their own vocalizations and learn through their own capacity to produce sounds.”


These findings make it clear just how important proper screening and hearing tests are among babies and young children. In adults the amount of time necessary to catch up with hearing peers after cochlear implant surgery is significantly longer, proving that infants take much less time to become acclimatized to their new condition following surgery.


Cochlear Implants And How They Work


Cochlear implant surgery is a form of treatment for profound deafness, during which a device is implanted behind the ear bone. Small electrodes are inserted into the cochlea which is located inside of the inner ear. A magnet and receiver is imbedded in the skull just above and behind the ear, and an external magnet with a processor is then placed over the skull after the healing process has completed. The external processor has an additional receiver that sits around the ear much like a hearing aid, allowing the device to pick up sounds and transfer it to the magnetized portion which then sends all of the electronic sound data into the cochlea via the electrodes. The Health Site states: “Cochlear implants are small electronic devices embedded into the bone behind the ear that replace some functions of the damaged inner ear.”


Many families with children who receive cochlear implants have said that their children grow to learn, hear, and speak just like all other children. This device gives them the chance to evolve at a normal pace and go to school and enjoy other activities just the same as anybody else.

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