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What sounds can your child hear?

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

If your child can hear a little, finding out which sounds she can hear will help you. The more you know about your child's hearing, the better you can communicate in a way she can understand.

Notice how your child responds to sound

It can be difficult to know if and when a child hears a sound, especially with very young children. You will know if your child hears a sound because she may:

A woman shakes a rattle beside her baby.
  • move her arms and legs.
  • change the look on her face.
  • become very still.
  • make a sound herself.
  • smile or laugh.
  • turn toward the sound, or tilt her head to listen.
  • be startled, open her eyes wider, or blink.

Does your child seem to hear some sounds?

To find out more about what a child can hear, watch him closely throughout the day and ask yourself:

  • Does he seem to hear mostly high-pitch sounds? Or mostly low-pitch sounds? Or a mixture of both?
  • Does he hear a sound some of the time but not all the time?
  • Can he only hear sounds when the room is quiet?
  • Does the sound have to be very loud for him to hear it?
A woman and her child sit on the floor and knock down toy blocks.
A woman and her child sit together beside a stack of blocks; another woman and her son talk nearby.
When the room is quiet, Kofi can hear the blocks fall down. Kofi may not hear the blocks fall down when there is other noise in the room.

Checking a child's hearing at home

It is hard to check a small child's hearing. But even if you plan to have your child's hearing tested by a professional, it is helpful if you can first check your child's hearing yourself. Then you can give information to the professional and you can better understand what the professional is doing.

Also, checking hearing at home is free and uses materials that are easy to find. And doing the checking yourself will give you more confidence to decide about your child's care and development. It is also a good way for friends and family members to get more involved as your
child learns to communicate.

A man kneels down before his daughter.

Keep in mind that your child may respond to:

  • what she sees, not to the sound.
  • the vibration (shaking) that a loud sound makes.
  • the expression on your face, or to your gesture.

And your child may not respond if:

  • she is busy doing something.
  • she is sick or has an ear infection.
  • she is tired, bored, or in a bad mood.