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Children & Hearing

Ottawa Children's Hearing Test

Hearing Loss in Children

Hearing loss in children can occur for several reasons:

  • Family history of hearing loss in childhood
  • Maternal infections during pregnancy
  • Breathing difficulty at birth
  • Visible malformations of the head, neck or ears
  • Very low birth weight   <1500 grams
  • Meningitis
  • Jaundice
  • Medications which cause hearing loss
  • Jaundice
  • Other medical conditions associated with hearing loss
  • Stay in a special care nursery for > 3 days
  • Prolonged mechanical ventilation lasting > 5 days

Behaviors in Children

By watching your child's responses to your voice and the sounds in their environment, and watching speech - language develop you can get a good idea of how well they can hear you.

The following are behaviors to expect of children with normally developing speech and language:

Birth to 3 Months:

  • Coo and gurgle
  • Laugh and use voice when played with
  • Watch your face when spoken to

3 Months to 6 Months:

  • Babble (use a series of sounds)
  • Make at least 4 different sounds when using voice
  • Babble to people when they speak

6 Months to 9 Months:

  • Babble using "song-like tunes"
  • Use voice (not crying) to get your attention
  • Use different sounds and appear to be naming things

9 Months to 12 Months:

  • Use jargon (appear to be talking)
  • Use consonant sounds (b, d, g, m, n) when "talking"
  • Jabber in response to a human voice, using changes in loudness, rhythm, and tone

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First Words in Children

First true words appear between ages 12 to 15 months:

12 Months to 18 Months:

  • Give one-word answers to questions
  • Imitate many new words
  • Use words more than one syllable with meaning (ex. "bottle")
  • Speak 10 to 20 words

18 Months to 24 Months:

  • Use own first name
  • Use "my" to get toys and other objects
  • Tell experiences using jargon and words
  • Use 2-word sentences (ex: "my shoe," "go bye-bye," "more juice")

24 Months to 30 Months:

  • Answer questions (What do you do when you are sleepy?)
  • Use plurals (ex: "2 books," "dogs")
  • Speak 100 to 200 words

30 Months to 36 Months:

  • Use question forms correctly (who? what? where? when?)
  • Use negative forms (ex: "it is not," "I can't")
  • Relate experiences using 4- to 5-word sentences

If you suspect any delay in your child’s speech acquisition or concerns regarding your child’s hearing, then you should contact an audiologist to have their hearing assessed.

*Stages of development adapted from S. Epstein and J.S. Reilly (1989). Sensorineural hearing loss. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 36 (6), 1501-1520

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