The term “speech comprehension” refers to the ability to take in, understand and store speech signals. It’s important for children to develop strong speech comprehension skills in order to learn how to communicate effectively and do well in school. However, hearing loss can be a barrier to this. Below we provide an overview of the connection between hearing loss and speech comprehension.
How Does Hearing Loss Affect Speech Comprehension?
Hearing loss makes it difficult to distinguish between certain sounds and words, making speech comprehension difficult or, in some cases, impossible.
Oftentimes, children with hearing loss are able to understand concrete words and concepts such as fish, table and yellow, but struggle with abstract ones like about, before and from. It’s also common for children who cannot hear well to struggle with homonyms, like “your cup is on the right” and “your sister is right.”
In addition, many people who have hearing loss to have a tough time distinguishing between certain consonant sounds. The sounds s, sh, f, t, and k are notoriously difficult. This means a child may say “I have a pet fis” rather than “I have a pet fish,” because they can’t hear the difference between the two sounds.
How Does Poor Speech Comprehension Affect Children?
We know that hearing loss can impact speech comprehension, but this can have greater effects as well. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hearing loss can cause a child to fall behind in school one to three grade levels behind their peers. Children with severe untreated hearing loss may never advance beyond third-grade level.
Fortunately, interventions like hearing aids and cochlear implants have been shown to keep kids on track with their learning.
What Are the Signs of Hearing Loss?
Every child is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all chart that shows what milestones they need to hit when. However, it’s important to look out for possible signs of hearing loss so it can be caught early.
The signs of hearing loss in babies include:
- Not startling at loud sounds.
- Not turning toward sound sources by six months old.
- Not saying single words like “mama” or “dada” by one year old.
- Not turning when you call their name.
- Seeming to hear some sounds/voices but not others.
The signs of hearing loss in children include:
- Delayed or unclear speech.
- Inability to follow directions.
- Often saying “huh?”
- Turning up the volume on the TV too high.
- Not making friends at Medical Center Park.
For more information or to schedule a hearing screening for your child, call the experts at Ormson Hearing Clinic today.