Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 5: What can your child hear?

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Chapter 5: What can your child hear?

A child does not react to the sounds made by a spoon hitting a pan.

Some children are completely deaf and cannot hear at all or can hear only very loud sounds. When babies are very young, parents notice their babies cannot hear, because they do not turn their head or respond, even to loud sounds.

Many more children with some hearing loss can still hear a few sounds. This sort of hearing loss can be harder for parents to notice. A child may show surprise or turn her head to a loud noise, but not to softer noises. She may respond only to certain kinds of sounds. Some children can still hear a little when people speak to them. They may slowly learn to recognize and respond to some words. But they do not hear all words clearly enough to understand. Children with this sort of hearing loss are slow to learn to speak.

A small child turns his head to see a spoon hitting a pan.

Many children develop hearing loss because of repeated and long- lasting ear infections, or as a side effect of certain medicines (for causes of deafness see Chapter 15). Parents may not notice a child is slowly losing his hearing until he is maybe 4 or 5 years old and has not yet started talking, or is not talking clearly.

If you can find out early how much your child can hear, it will help you know what kind of extra help to give him so he can communicate. Sometimes parents, other children, or teachers think a child with hearing loss is mentally slow. If children who are deaf get extra help to learn to communicate, most of them can learn and be educated like other children. That is why it is important to find out what, if anything, a child can hear.