How Hearing Affects Your Child’s Speech And Language Development

If you are concerned about your child’s articulation (the way he produces his speech sounds) and are considering a speech and boy hearinglanguage evaluation, a hearing evaluation may be helpful as well!

“But I am concerned with my child’s speech, not his ability to hear” – you say? Consider this: if you weren’t able to hear people speaking, how precisely would you be able to imitate their speech? Not very easily! Continue reading to discover just how important and informative a hearing evaluation can be.

Q: What does an initial hearing evaluation consist of?

A: Typically, an audiologist will conduct the following screening measures:

Pure Tone Audiometry Test: This consists of your child wearing headphones and responding (usually by raising his hand) to tones in each ear at different frequencies (pitch) and intensities (loudness). This test identifies the various pitches and loudness levels your child can hear.

Speech Reception Threshold: The audiologist will read two-syllable words pronounced with equal stress on each part, like “hotdog” and ask your child to repeat them. This test checks your child’s ability to understand speech sounds in each ear.

Speech Discrimination Testing: The audiologist will read single-syllable words, like “ball” and ask your child to repeat them. The purpose of this assessment is to determine the percentage of words your child can hear.

Q: Why is a hearing evaluation so important?

A: A hearing evaluation can help to determine if a hearing loss is present.

A: If a hearing loss is present, the evaluation can be the first step to correcting the hearing loss (hearing aids, cochlear implant, amplifier systems for your child’s classroom, etc).

A: A hearing evaluation may help explain why your child’s speech production skills are lower than what is expected for a child his age. For instance, certain speech sounds are heard at different pitch levels or at different volumes. This means, if your child has a hearing loss in a specific area, he wouldn’t be expected to accurately produce the corresponding sounds!

  • Even with a mild hearing loss, many speech sounds (z, v, p, h, g, ch, sh, k) may be affected!

A: A hearing evaluation can even help identify disorders of the ear. For instance, the evaluation can help identify external otitis (more commonly known as “swimmer’s ear”)!

A: A hearing disorder can affect your child in the classroom. Results from an evaluation may help to adjust your child’s school day to optimize his performance (e.g. changing his desk position in the classroom, using an FM system, giving the teacher a small microphone, etc).

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