Perfect hearing is something that the average person really takes for granted. When people think of hearing loss, they often associate the condition with people who are old in age. Hearing loss is common in babies and young children. A person can be born deaf of suffer hearing loss gradually over time. Of the estimated 738,000 people in the U.S. who have experienced substantial hearing loss, 8 percent of those people fall under the age of 18. People should understand that hearing loss is something that affects people from all backgrounds of all ages. Many people, especially children, are at risk for hearing loss.
It is estimated that 15 percent of children between the ages of 6-19 years old have experienced low or high frequency hearing at the 16th decibel in one or both ears. Children who may be hard of hearing may find it hard to grasp certain concepts like word order or may have a hard time learning grammar in school. Depending on the severity of the hearing impairment, the person has one of two options available to them to navigate these challenges. Children may have to wear a hearing aid, which amplifies the sound and redirects it into the user's ear. Others may learn sign language. Individuals who are deaf or have suffered hearing loss will have to learn sign language as a means to communicate with others.
Children must be assured that they will be able to have a wonderful, fulfilling life with a hearing impairment. Although children will have to grapple with bullying and may struggle with communications, many go on to excel in different areas of their lives. Pete Townshend was a rock musician who enjoyed a stellar career as a guitarist and songwriter for The Who. Although being hearing impaired, he enjoyed 40 years in the entertainment field. Townshend has tinnitus and is partially deaf. He credits his hearing loss to a noisy environment where he was consistently exposed to loud music. Actress Marlee Matlin has lost 80 percent of her hearing in her left ear. Since a toddler, she has struggled with hearing loss. Her strong support system helped her adapt to her condition and excel in acting. The actress went on to win an Oscar and a Golden Globe award with a hearing impairment.
EarQ supplier hearing aids nationwide, has recently launched a HearStrong campaign to raise awareness about hearing impairments. The company has launched the “HearStrong Champions” campaign, an initiative that identifies people with hearing impairments to serve as role models to those affected by hearing loss. The “HearStrong Champions” encourage others to pursue their goals and dreams in spite of having hearing loss.
Although having a hearing impairment can be an adjustment for the family and the child, the condition doesn’t have to ruin the person's life. It is up to the parent to help the child navigate the many challenges of being hearing impaired and make sure that the child feels like there are no limitations because of the condition. Parents should also be proactive in scheduling regular hearing screenings for their child to protect the child's hearing and detect hearing loss. The abundance of knowledge, resources and technology available make it possible for children with hearing impairments to enjoy fulfilling lives.
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