Language is divided into expressive and receptive language. Expressive language is how a child expresses his/her wants and needs, verbally or non-verbally. Receptive language which develops initially refers to how well a child understands what is being said. As a child’s receptive language increases, expressive language evolves. A delay in reaching developmental language milestones signals the need for a hearing test to rule in or out normal hearing. Your child may have passed the neonatal hearing screen but if you suspect a language delay, it is essential that h/she see a pediatric audiologist for a complete hearing evaluation.
A hearing test can rule in normal hearing or uncover hearing loss requiring treatment. Common causes of language delay are varied and wide ranging. Fluctuating hearing loss due to middle ear infections is common among young children especially during the winter months. Permanent hearing loss can be due to genetic factors, head trauma, noise exposure, or birth injury. Results of testing completed by a pediatric audiologist will help determine if a hearing loss is present, categorize the type of hearing loss your child may have, whether the hearing loss exists in one or both ears, and how best to manage the hearing loss. Thanks to our increased understanding of etiologies of hearing loss and technological advances the sooner a child undergoes a complete hearing test the better the prognosis.
While there is large variability across children, children between 0 and 3 months are expected to react to loud sounds and smile when h/she sees you. Children between 4 to 6 months tend to follow sounds with their eyes and pay attention to music. Your child who is 7 months to 1 year of age should be turning and looking in the direction sound is coming from, and should quiet down when spoken to. Children between 1 and 2 years of age enjoy simple stories, songs, and rhymes and are able to point to pictures when looking through books or the iPad.