To a developing child, hearing loss can be devastating. Children with untreated hearing loss face 10 times the risk of being held back at least one grade in school, as well as reduced earning potential as an adult. When it comes to communication, hearing is the most crucial sense: Learning social skills and paying attention in class become far more difficult when hearing is impaired.

Identifying and treating hearing loss in children at an early age can lessen the negative impacts on that child’s development, giving them the opportunity to live up to their full potential socially, academically, and economically. Unfortunately, hearing problems in children aren’t always apparent until he or she gets a little older, which means they have missed out on precious developmental time.

Hearing tests performed at an early age, however, can help you make sure your child has healthy hearing. Below are some signs that your child may not be hearing as well as they could.

In Newborns and Infants:

Your child’s communication skills begin to develop as soon as they are born, and a developmental delay is a red flag that something isn’t quite right. These signs may indicate a hearing loss.

Difficulty Hearing/Understanding:

  • Not startling at loud noises
  • Not recognizing your voice
  • Not moving eyes in direction of sound

Difficulty with Speech Development:

  • Lack of babbling
  • Lack of crying for different needs
  • Doesn’t vocalize excitement or displeasure
  • Around 7 months to a year, hasn’t spoken one or two words

In Toddlers and Children:

Similar to newborns and infants, a toddler or young child’s difficulty communicating may indicate a hearing impairment. These signs may indicate your child is having trouble hearing at daycare or preschool.

Difficulty Hearing/Understanding:

  • Unable to point to different body parts when asked
  • Doesn’t enjoy being read to
  • Doesn’t understand action words like “run” or “sit”
  • Sits close to the television

Difficulty with Speech Development:

  • Unable to form simple sentences
  • Doesn’t ask “Why?” or “What?” questions
  • Can’t answer “Why?” or “What?” questions
  • Doesn’t use plurals or verbs

In Adolescents and Young Adults:

This group is perhaps more at risk of noise-induced hearing loss than at any point in our recent history. The World Health Organization released a report in 2015 announcing that 1.1 billion teens and young adults were at risk of hearing loss due to loud music listening habits through the earbuds that come with smartphones and other devices.

Look for these signs of hearing loss:

  • Turning up the television to an excessive volume
  • Saying “What?” frequently
  • Only responding when eye contact is made
  • Complaining of ringing in the ears or a dip in hearing ability
  • Withdrawing socially

If you believe your child is showing signs of hearing loss, please schedule an appointment with your local pediatric hearing care specialist. Early intervention and treatment can help ensure your child’s academic and social futures are not jeopardized by a treatable hearing loss.