|Hearing issues for children with Cerebral Palsy|
Excerpts and links below go into detail on specific techniques to aid a child with difficulty hearing and the specific types of hearing impairments that effect a child with cerebral palsy. Etiologies can be diverse with a variety of recommended interventions.
“Otitis media is a common, minor ailment which can affect disabled and non-disabled children alike. Many children without disability have been wrongly thought to have developmental delay because of this condition. It is an infection of the middle ear which can have a serious effect on the child’s hearing due to the production of fluid ‘glue’ in the middle ear. It is slightly more common in pre-term infants than those born at term. Children who have CP may have long-term problems with hearing due to brain damage. On the other hand, otitis media can occur in addition, and quite separate to any brain damage but have a further, unnecessary, disabling effect on the child. If you can’t distinguish the sounds that are going on around you and you have restricted mobility the situation could be very frustrating. It is already difficult enough to make your way through the developmental maze without the added complication of a curable infection. It is vitally important that you get your child’s hearing checked regularly as otitis media is much more difficult to pick up in a child who has CP. There is sophisticated machinery available which can detect this condition fairly easily so that treatment can be rapidly administered. If the condition is severe it may require for the insertion of grommets. Some parents and professionals believe that grommets should only be inserted as a last resort as they may increase the possibility of infection and prohibit certain activities such as swimming.” (The Cerebral Palsy Handbook: p. 43)
“If your child has sensory neural impairment which has some potential for recovery, sound may still play a central role in activities.
“Hearing is critical for the full development of language skills. In an infant or young child, even a mild hearing loss can interfere with language development. Because 5 to 15 percent of children with cerebral palsy have hearing impairments, it is important to have your child’s hearing checked early and often.
As a parent, you should watch your child for signs of hearing loss. Children with mild to moderate hearing impairment react differently to voices or noises at different times – they seem not to be listening at times. Children with severe to profound hearing impairments usually do not respond to voices or noises. Instead, they respond to touch or to visual or environmental cues. For example, seeing clothes laid out on the bed might tell them that it is time to dress; food on the table might signal them that lunch is ready.
Children with cerebral palsy may have two types of hearing impairment: sensorineural or conductive. Both types reduce a child’s level of sound perception and make speech sound indistinct to her. In either type, hearing loss may range from mild to profound.
Sensorineural losses result from damage to the inner ear (cochlea), the auditory nerve, or both. The impairment can be congenital (present at birth), or acquired later in childhood from meningitis, high fever, or medications such as certain antibiotics. Hereditary sensorineural loss can develop early in infancy or over childhood. About one percent of children with cerebral palsy have this type of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is the more common type of hearing loss in children with cerebral palsy. It is due to middle ear disease (ear infections), anatomic abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate, or malformed ears. A common ear infection that can produce hearing loss is viral or bacterial infection of the middle ear. (otitis media). Signs of otitis media are ear pain, fever, ear discharge, or irritability, together with a red, bulging eardrum. Middle ear fluid (serious otitis media), which may accompany colds or allergies, can also cause a conductive hearing loss.
Depending on your child’s age, the audiologist (hearing specialist) can use a variety of tests to check your child’s hearing. For example, to assess the hearing of an infant under six months, the audiologist can use behavioral testing procedures – that is, present a sound, then watch for responses such as a startle, eye blinking, or head turning. An older child might be tested while at play. The audiologist can then observe whether the child responds to sound by changes in play activity…..
Children with a sensorineural hearing loss may need a hearing aid to amplify sounds. To improve a child’s responses to sounds, both the audiologist and the speech-language pathologist generally work with her to adjust the hearing aid properly. Language skills can be further enhanced with speech-language therapy and other early intervention or special education services.’ (Children with Cerebral Palsy: p, 74 – 76)
“Screening for Hearing Loss: Gives guidelines on how to identify hearing loss in children. Available in English, Hindi, Bengali.”
“Just what we need! A web site where deaf people with cerebral palsy can unite, speak out, and be role models for the deaf children out there learning to live with cerebral palsy, whether or not they have cerebral palsy.”
“Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects, affecting about 3 in 1,000 babies.”
“People who have CP may also experience a range of conditions in addition to impaired motor function. These may include…”
“There is evidence that both hearing and vision become worse with age so that periodic reexamination becomes necessary.”