Written by Alissa Hill - Charities Coordinator, Elks of Canada
Hearing and communication is vital to the development of each child, did you know that newborn hearing screening is not available to all babies in Canada?
In general, most hospitals only screen high risk babies for hearing loss, however, over 50% of all babies with hearing loss show no high risk factors. In the first few hours of life your baby will go through a variety of health tests and checks, such as the APGAR which checks the infant’s heart rate, color, and reflex. The hospital will also test for several different health conditions, enzyme deficiency and much more within a 48hour period of birth. A hearing test is a simple, painless test that can be performed by a nurse or doctor, yet it is not a mandatory examination.
It can be difficult, especially in the early years of life to tell if a baby has a hearing disorder (without, a simple test performed by trained professional) this means that you’d likely be unable to tell if your child was having issues with hearing, and therefore could go the first months or years without being able to hear before you’d be able to detect an issue. Usually what ends up indicating a hearing disorder becomes issues in communication development which sets off a red flag for a hearing issue.
Extended periods of hearing or speech impairment can escalate into serious developmental issues if gone untreated, affecting brain development and sensory skills. The reality is that hearing loss can result in language, academic, cognitive, social and emotional challenges if it isn’t caught early enough.
Emily was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss at 18 months old. Emily continued to be behind in her speech and language development even with the initial hearing aids her parents invested in. The family eventually found out that Emily’s hearing loss was progressive, and severe. Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children was able to help Emily’s family pay for high power hearing aids that would better suit her severe hearing loss. Since that time Emily’s progress with speech and language has skyrocketed. The advanced hearing aids allow Emily to communicate effectively, and hear even slight sounds and noises which in turn accelerated her speech and language development.
If made mandatory, hearing screening could catch issues early on so that infants could get the equipment and support they need to hear properly, which would help prevent development delays and/or issues in young children.
(Hearing and Speech milestone check from SAC – Speech-Language Audiology Canada)
Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children provide personal assistance to children under 19 years of age so they can access the medical equipment they need such as hearing aids, speech therapy, conversion vans and more! Funding is also provided by the charity to programs across the country that assist children with hearing disorders such as VOICE, SPARC, ISTAR and BC Family Hearing Clinic. Royal Purple Fund for Children also contribute funding to the research of hearing loss and prevention.
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