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Early intervention in hearing impairments matters. Here's why

January 18, 2019

When it comes to disabilities, early intervention and early diagnosis plays a crucial role. In fact, with early intervention, many disabled people are able to overcome the limitations that come with a disability.

In India, which has a large deaf population, many from economically backward families, early intervention is often missed out on.

Awareness about disabilities is also quite low. Experts point to the importance of early intervention for hearing loss because lack of right therapies can adversely impact the child's language development in the future.

Hearing impacts the learning, language, speech and social skills of an individual. If not detected early, the child can undergo depression, have reduced socio-economic status and social skills during their formative years. That is precisely the reason why early intervention plays a major role in the life of a child with hearing loss.

Apart from private hospitals, government hospitals also have facilities for screening of children for hearing loss. But do parents really avail those facilities? Screening for hearing loss must be made mandatory in hospitals. Since the first two years of a child's life is extremely important, parents have the duty to take precautionary measures to ensure that the child has a good quality of life.

If a child has neurological hearing problems by birth, then a hearing test will only do them good later on in life because speech development also depends on it. Doctors usually ask parents to do the test by the time the baby is one year old. The earlier the test is done, the better. Ototacoustic Emissions Testing (OAE) and auditory brainstem response (BERA) is done in most hospitals to check on the baby's hearing. All our government and private hospitals have facilities for them. Even if authorities do not come forward to test, parents must tell them that it is mandatory-Dr Sabari Nath - ENT specialist

Today, there are expert therapists who can bring out the best in a child. The medical world is also much advanced in offering facilities like cochlear implants. But since this is very expensive, not every individual with a hearing loss can afford it.

Family plays a crucial role in improving the mental and physical well-being of a child with a hearing loss. Their support matters a lot. Most importantly, parents must be made aware of their child's disability because gone are days when disabled children were considered to be a burden on their families. Today, we have thousands of deaf people who have created their mark in the society. Thanks to their families who played a pivotal role in providing them with right therapies and training!

So early intervention is not just for children. Even adults, who are experiencing hearing loss, must undergo early intervention and diagnosis at the earliest. Adults experience hearing loss due to many medical conditions. Diagnosing it early will only do them good.

"Earlier we had parents bringing their children when they were eight or nine years old. Now, they introduce them to therapies and training by the time they are three years old. Early intervention is a must because quality of the child's life depends on it", says Jessy Samuel, Principal, Sheila Deaf School in Bengaluru.

ALSO READ: 21 disabilities under RPWD 2016 - Hearing Impairment - Deaf and hard of hearing

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