So your child failed their newborn hearing screen… now what?

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So you just gave birth to your beautiful bundle of joy.  After 9 months of constant ups and down this is the moment you’ve been waiting for  Your doctor announces 10 fingers, 10 toes everything is perfectly fine. You finally can take a deep breath of relief as you cuddle your precious baby close to you. But what happens when your child has a disability that can’t be seen?
The news could come while your nursing your brand new baby  in the middle of the night, it could come in the late after noon as your about to doze off, it could come in the morning when you are anxiously awaiting for the nursery staff to return your baby to you.Most hospitals now have a newborn hearing screen done shortly after birth. It is a non invasive test were they place a earphone in your baby’s ear and stimulate sounds then measure the echo.  If they find a absence of the echo this may indicate your child has hearing loss. Don’t panic if your are told this.  A lot of newborns fail their hearing screens due to fluids in the ears.
They will run the same screen  in a few days and if the baby fails you will be sent to Children’s Hospital for a ABR test The ABR will probably look scary to you.Your baby will need to be sleeping. Most of the time a young infant will sleep through on their own but a older infant may need a mild sedative. Your child will wear headphones and have  electrodes placed on the head and ears that will measure the electrical activity in the brain when your baby should be hearing.
When  the audiologist tells you your child has hearing loss you most likely will feel a range of different emotions from Sad to Angry to guilty. Do yourself a favor and drop the guilt. It is not your fault there was nothing you could do to prevent it. Don’t be afraid to grieve for your child’s hearing loss. This will be a big change for your family but rest assure it will in time become second nature.
Your child’s audiologist will give some options on how to manage your child’s hearing loss. Most commonly for mild to severe loss hearing aids will be recommended. The best thing is to get your child aided as fast as possible. If your audiologist doesn’t bring it up make sure to ask about loaner aids to use before their permanent aids are ready. They make the coolest hearing aids now they are small and come in many different colors. At most places you can even chose fun ear molds with color and glitter. I would recommend getting a set of Ear Gear (gearforears.com) it keeps the hearing aids attached to baby so they won’t get lost and also protects them from moisture. Yes your child’s hearing aids will get broken… A LOT. Remember to a infant these are just toys they wear all day. Ask about warranties on the aids and don’t be upset when your baby pulls the tubes out or snaps them in half. I cried for days about a broken aid feeling like such a bad mom until someone told just how normal this is. Keeping  hearing aids in is not the easiest thing either. But it is important to be consistent about putting them back in, it becomes tiring but eventually your baby will grow out of this phase.
The next thing would be to call your Early Intervention Office. This will be a very important step to take for your child. They will help you as a parent learn new ways to work with your child to help reach communication goals. They will also set you up with different people such a teachers for the deaf and hearing impaired, speech teacher and so on. They will become a big part of you life. Someone to lean on. Take full advantage of these services!
Find a network of support. It a lot for a family to take on and its important for you  to know that you are not alone.
Most importantly talk, talk and talk some more to your child. Never stop talking. Just because your child may not hear well your voice is still so important. As the months go on you will see things from your child that you never expected.
Take a deep breath, Relax and enjoy your special Little One.Remember just like with any child… The Sky is the limit!

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