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  • Writer's pictureLana Joseph

How Childhood Hearing Loss Impacts Brain Development

Many things influence our brain development during childhood, and it’s no surprise that hearing is one of those major factors. But how exactly does childhood hearing loss impact brain development?

A little girl smiling outside

How the Brain Develops

When discussing hearing loss it’s important to remember that the brain is the true hearing organ—the ears merely transmit sounds to be interpreted by the brain. In order to help us understand the world around us, auditory neural pathways are formed during childhood when we’re exposed to sound.

Children with typical hearing generally begin to hear things at around 20 weeks of gestation. These pathways begin forming early because children rely on incidental learning or passive experiences that employ each one of their senses. Passively hearing language and other sounds prepares us to learn incidentally, and it forms the groundwork for other skills down the road in our development.

How Hearing Affects Brain Development

Deafness or hearing impairment hinders the formation of those auditory neural pathways, making certain aspects of life more difficult. Some of the challenges that children with hearing loss may experience include:

  • Less flexibility to receive and use sound information over time. This is due to the brain developing visual pathways that would have been used for auditory pathways.

  • Diminished learning capabilities. Children with hearing loss may require up to three times as much exposure in order to learn new words or concepts than typical hearing children.

  • Delays in receptive and expressive communication skills.

However, if hearing loss is detected early, there are steps you can take to limit the negative impacts of childhood hearing loss.

Steps to Take When Your Child Has Hearing Loss

To combat the negative effects of hearing loss on your child’s brain development, you can:

  • Secure the services of an experienced hearing doctor or audiologist to make sure your child is hearing as well as possible.

  • Cut down on white noise in the household and learning environments. This helps hearing-impaired children focus on important sounds and information.

  • Speak with your child in full sentences as frequently and as audibly as possible.

  • Sing songs with your child and make sure they’re getting a wide variety of new and valuable exposures to sounds.

Hearing Help for All Ages

High Level Speech & Hearing Center offers a wide variety of treatment options and hearing services for patients of all ages. Identifying hearing issues as early as possible is vital for a child’s brain development. Arrange a checkup or hearing assessment online, or give us a call at 504-345-2984 to schedule an appointment today.

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