The accurate diagnosis of hearing loss in infants and children along with the appropriate fitting of hearing aids and FM systems requires special training and expertise. Children are our future. By giving them access to the wealth of sounds that enrich today’s world, we can help them to develop the auditory skills they need to build their future. In Ontario only Audiologists and Physicians are allowed to diagnose hearing loss in children and prescribe hearing aids for infants and children.
Infants and children learn language by listening to those around them. When a child has a
hearing loss there “listening bubble” is quite a bit smaller making it harder for them to develop
language. School age children with even a mild hearing loss can be at a disadvantage
The Ontario Infant Hearing Program
The Ontario Infant Hearing Program was implemented in 2002 by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. All babies born in Ontario hospitals are offered a hearing screening test at birth for hearing loss, prior to leaving for home. A baby who receives a “refer” result on the initial screening is either sent for further screening or to a Ministry approved Audiologist for advanced diagnostic testing. The implementation of this world renowned program put Ontario on the map internationally and is viewed by the international community as a model program for identifying babies with hearing loss. Researchers have established that early identification of hearing loss is an important factor in the development of normal speech and language and future success in school. Prior to implementation of the Program children with hearing loss were often not identified until they were over two years of age and at times not until they entered school. Research statistics show that 3-4 in 1,000 babies are born with a permanent hearing impairment. While some of these babies have risk factors associated with hearing loss, there are others with no risk factors who, in the past, would most likely have been identified late, putting those infants at an even greater disadvantage in developing normal speech and language.
To operate the Infant Hearing Program, the province is divided into geographical regions with a select group of Audiologists approved by the Ministry to perform the advanced diagnostic services.
In the Wellington Region, Wellington Hearing Care has been awarded the contract. “This is why I opened my practice in Guelph” says Lynne. “Families of children requiring diagnostic services through the infant hearing program have had to drive to neighboring communities like Brampton or Kitchener….I thought its time to bring these services to Guelph”.
The Ministry’s goal is to identify all babies with permanent hearing loss and where selected by their parents, fit them with hearing aids by 6 months of age. The successful achievement of this goal should have a profoundly positive outcome in the lives of those infants affected by hearing impairment.
I am delighted and honoured as an audiologist to be able to say I am part of this program
making a difference in the lives of children in the Wellington region.
Hearing Milestones to Look For
Listed below are some of the milestones that mark the progress of young children as they learn to communicate in spoken language (from Infant Hearing Program government publication 7710-6139310) – Services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
By 6 Months
Turns to source of sounds
Startles in response to sudden, loud noises
Watches your face as you talk
Smiles and laughs in response to your smiles and laughs
By 9 Months
Responds to his/her name
Responds to telephone ringing or a knock at the door
Plays social games e.g., “Peek-a-boo”
Babbles and repeats sounds – “babababa, duhduhduhduh”
Produces words with two or more syllables or beats “ba-na-na”, “com-pu-ter”
Remembers and understands familiar stories
The above milestones are based on a child’s hearing age – the length of time the child has been consistently wearing hearing aids and/or a cochlear implant. Based on hearing aid and other variables, children may pass through the same stages of listening, speech, language and cognitive development as children with typical hearing.
Mon. Tues. Thurs. 9am - 5pm
Wed. 9am - 6pm
Fri. 9am - 4pm
Weekend appointments available upon request