Typical Hearing and Listening Development: Learning how to listen well is a miraculous process that actually starts when a baby is in the womb. Parents can help develop listening skills by surrounding their baby with enlivening sounds from the moment of birth. In time, the repetition of identical sounds forms a specific relationship in a baby’s brain—words. These words string together to form language, which is filled with seemingly infinite layers of meaning. These meanings are conveyed through inflection, volume and other signals, which enable us to express ourselves and understand each other. By providing the appropriate stimulation, parents can raise a child who is open, receptive and engaged in life. Without this stimulation, however, a child may become withdrawn and frustrated and/or act out inappropriately because s/he lacks the skills to adequately make sense of his or her world. Learning to listen is the key.

Hearing Loss: Statistics show that approximately 3 in every 1,000 children have some type of hearing loss. Hearing loss is the result of problems in the middle or inner ear. Hearing loss can be diagnosed at birth (universal screening) or as a child develops. Children with hearing loss can receive auditory input via hearing aids or cochlear implants, depending on the type and degree of the hearing loss. With access to sound, the child needs to learn how to listen through auditory therapy. Receiving a device to receive sound is just the first step in using hearing to learn language, speech and social skills. Learning to listen is the key.

APD (Auditory Processing Disorder): Auditory Processing Disorders, which afflict 1 in 100 children, are characterized by a confusing ability to hear but not listen well, a limited vocabulary, and frustration in communication. They are often wrongly diagnosed as a learning disability or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). There is no surgery or pill to correct this problem, but without intervention an APD can be devastating for a child as s/he enters school because good listening skills are essential for success in the classroom. Learning to listen is the key.

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