Editor's Note: May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. And though we're nearing the end of the month, I didn't think it was too late to post this piece by Kathleen Watts, program manager for the North Carolina Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program.
Children born in North Carolina are screened for hearing loss before they go home from the hospital. This is an important step in identifying children with hearing loss, but it is only the first step. About three children out of every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss. An equal number will acquire hearing loss prior to starting school. Every parent needs to be aware of their child's development and the signs that hearing loss may have become an issue for their child. Whenever there are concerns about a child's speech, hearing needs to be checked. Your child's doctor can refer you to a pediatric audiologist or speech therapist to help.
Each child develops at an individual rate, but there are certain skills that most children will have mastered by the time they reach a certain age. These are sometimes referred to as milestones. Being aware of the hearing and speech milestones helps a parent recognize that their child may need some help in this area of development.
Birth to 3 months
Startles to loud sounds
Seems to recognize your voice
Quiets or smiles when spoken to
4 to 6 months
Babbles with many different sounds
Moves eyes in direction of sounds
Notices toys that make sounds
Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
7 months to 1 year
Listens when spoken to
Imitates different speech sounds
Enjoys games like peek-a-boo
1 to 2 years
Points to some body parts when asked
Says more words every month
Listens to simple stories, songs and rhymes
Puts two words together (more juice)
2 to 3 years
Understands differences in meaning (on vs. in)
Has a word for almost everything
Often asks for objects by naming them
3 to 4 years
Hears when you call from another room
Talks about activities at school or a friend's home
People outside family usually understand child's speech
5 to 6 years
Pays attention and can answer questions about a short story
Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family
Communicates easily with other children and adults
No one knows your child better than you. If you ever have any concerns about your child's hearing, speech or language development, talk to your medical provider.
For more information and to find resources in North Carolina, go to the North Carolina Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program's website.