Hearing is vital to the development of one’s communication and their personality. It is the epicenter for speech and language development.
Simply put, if you can’t hear, you can’t speak
Do this right now. Find a partner and say a few sentences to them, without using your voice. Just by making the movements with your mouth. Off course, you know what you are saying, but you will see a puzzled expression on their face. They will immediately ask you or maybe get frustrated in a bit. This is exactly how it feels, for a child/individual who can’t hear. Imagine their distress, for not being able to decipher the message or the intent of the conversation.
Therefore, my blog post today is to urge families to do a hearing screening for their child, after birth. If you haven’t, and you notice that your child has trouble speaking , conveying messages, or feel something is not right, or missing for their age in terms of communication. Then, get a hearing test done before seeing a Speech Therapist.
As a Speech Language Therapist, the first thing I ask parents to do when they come for a consultation, is to get their child’s hearing checked. By far, the most important thing is to rule out the presence of a hearing loss. Most of the time, the answer I get is ‘ Well, he/she is hearing fine. We know that. He/She listens to what we tell them’ . And I understand that . As parents, we think we know our child better than anybody else. That’s true.
However, hearing is not something that we can purely judge by the way a child responds to their name, or listens to what we say. We hear in different frequencies, meaning different pitches. For e.g. The sound of an airplane falls in the high frequency (high-pitched), compared to the sound of our speech (low to medium pitched).
‘Our speech for instance, has so many speech sounds (/l/, /a/,/s/) that fall from low-mid-high frequencies. And if either of these sounds are not heard by the child, you will find the child not speaking clearly or using language effectively’.
During a hearing evaluation, all the frequencies from low/medium/high are checked in succession, to make sure the child is able to hear all the different sounds. I am not implying that, hearing loss is the sole reason behind communication problems. But, it is the most crucial to normal development of communication.
In countries like the US, newborn hearing screening is a government requirement and it is done after birth. In the United Arab Emirates, it is not mandatory to do the test after birth. Therefore, it is not covered by insurance. Nevertheless, knowing that the child hears fine is much better, than having to find out later about a hearing loss.
In fact, I have known a family, through awareness decided to do a hearing screening for their child after birth, only to find that the child was having a hearing loss. Early detection and intervention led to the child developing typical and normal communication.
An Audiologist is the professional who does a hearing evaluation. Please make sure you ask for an audiologist to do the test. Most of the hospitals in Dubai have audiologists working in the ENT department.
Following are the places, I recommend in Dubai:
- The Advanced Hearing and Balance Center, Dubai
- Mediclinic City Hospital, Dubai
- Medcare Hospital, Dubai
Therefore, I request families to get their child’s hearing checked. We all need to hear and listen better, to speak better.