What Causes Childhood Deafness and How Does It Affect Parents?

Little Zoey proves you are never too young to proudly pose for Show Me Your Ears. Her dad, Kyle, shared this photo via Facebook...and he is so thrilled to share his little girl off to the world. So are we!

Little Zoey proves you are never too young to proudly pose for Show Me Your Ears. Her dad, Kyle, shared this photo via Facebook…and he is so thrilled to share his little girl with the world. So are we!

Zoey is a sweet baby girl who just began wearing hearing aids. Her father recently shared her heartwarming story with Lipreading Mom.com.

This Is My Daughter – By Kyle Zentzer

Zoey was born October 11, 2012. From the very beginning, Zoey never passed her hearing screening at the hospital. Finally after her first sedated Bear test, we learned that she had bilateral profound hearing loss. While a bit disappointing to hear, it was not too much a surprise as this is something she shares with her father.

Living in a small West Michigan town, it has been difficult to find people to work with newborns with hearing difficulties. It has taken seven months for her to finally get her hearing aids, and she wears the Oticon Safari aid suggested by her audiologist. It is a parent-friendly devise with indicating lights that tell you whether the aid is operating properly or not—a big bonus since obviously Zoey cannot tell us. As her parents, we are committed to expose Zoey to both the hearing and not hearing cultures. We want her to not fall behind in development and expose her to both American Sign Language (ASL) and the spoken English. No matter what difficulties we may face, God has blessed us with this beautiful angel and we love her with all our heart.

(Lipreading Mom’s Note: Kyle Zentner said he is happy to be a resource to other parents whose children have hearing loss or deafness. He suggested contacting him on Facebook or email.

Many kids have posed for Show Me Your Ears since the campaign started in 2012.

Many kids have posed for Show Me Your Ears since the campaign started in 2012.

A Look at Childhood Deafness – by John Connor, LipreadingMom.com Guest Blogger

Three out of every 1,000 American children are born deaf, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Three out of four children experience temporary hearing loss due to an ear infection. A small percentage of hearing-impaired children also have a genetic syndrome.

Deafness occurs when any part of the ear — the outer, middle or inner ear, acoustic nerve or auditory system — does not work the way it should. Hearing loss varies for each child and can have different causes. Early detection allows children to get the interventions they need to develop communication skills.

What Causes Deafness?

More than 50 percent of infant hearing loss has a genetic cause. Sometimes, deafness runs in the family. Other times, it occurs with other conditions in a syndrome such as Usher syndrome or Down syndrome.

Maternal infections, head trauma and complications during pregnancy or after childbirth may also cause hearing loss in babies. For 25 percent of deaf babies, the cause of hearing loss is unclear.

Ear infections often cause otitis media, a temporary hearing loss. Acquired hearing loss results from head or ear injuries, extensive noise exposure, serious infections and some medications.

Signs and Symptoms

Children who are hard-of-hearing exhibit certain signs. Some of the most common signs are delays in development, speech problems, learning disabilities, persistent ear infections and certain childhood syndromes. Hearing screenings are easy, painless diagnostic tools for determining hearing loss.

Early Intervention

Children with hearing loss have many communication options. They include sign language, hearing aids, medicine, surgery, cochlear implants, communication technology and various assistive devices. Support services provide education and assistance for children and their families.

Myths and Misunderstandings

There are many misconceptions about hearing loss. Deaf children are sometimes perceived as slow and are often the target of bullies, and they may think they are not as good as others.

Children with hearing loss need the support of their family, friends and teachers. Deaf children are not different from other kids. It is encouraging to know that many influential people started their lives as a deaf child. Nick Hamilton and Tamika Catchings are two of them.

Influential Overcomers

Both of these sports stars grew up with hearing impairment. Hamilton, a professional baseball player, lost most of his hearing after he was diagnosed with a rare condition at the age of three. He overcame his hearing loss to become a star ballplayer for Kent State and, later, the Cleveland Indians.

Tamika Catchings endured teasing and harassment as a child, due to her speech problems and big hearing aids. Catchings, a professional basketball player, overcame her challenges to become a WNBA all-star and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Hearing is often a sense that we take for granted until it is gone. For people who are affected by hearing loss, with the right guidance, love and a little belief anything is possible. We cannot let the stigmas of hearing loss affect people who are hard of hearing. No one is different!

~*~*~*~

John O’Connor is a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Check out his blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com.

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