Early intervention key in assisting hearing impaired children, doctor advises parents

PARENTS should pay close attention to any early signs that may suggest that their children’s hearing is not quite what it should be.

This is the advice coming from Dr. Daniel Coelho, Medical Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s (VCU) Cochlear Implant Programme, who performed the very first cochlear implant surgery ever to take place in Barbados and the entire Eastern Caribbean. The procedure was carried out on two-year-old J’dae Prescott-Griffith earlier this week at the QEH, allowing her to hear for the very first time.

“Parents should look to see how their kids are reacting even from a very early age, it’s what we call a startle reflex. If you drop a pen or if you make a loud noise in a room, children, even from a very young age, even new-borns, will startle.

“If you don’t see that startle, then it may be an indication that something’s off,” Dr. Coelho indicated, as he spoke to The Barbados Advocate from the grounds of the Sandy Lane Country Club this week, following a press conference held by the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, to announce the groundbreaking surgery.

“Traditionally, we have told parents to look out for the speech and the speech development, but that is very variable. So we encourage parents to have the child’s hearing screened anyway, even if there is the slightest concern, even if there is no concern... it is always a good idea to at least make sure that they have had the universal screening. If there is a concern, then you need to get in with an audiologist to do proper screening,” he commented.

Dr. Coelho stressed that in relation to the speech development of children, parents should not simply assume that a young child will speak when it is ready to do so, and as such not delay any check-ups the child could benefit from that could detect that the child is hearing impaired.

Those children who may just have one or two words in their vocabulary, or none at all at a year and a half or two, or even three, may suffer in the end, if it is that they do have a problem with their hearing, as the longer parents wait to detect that something is wrong and to seek treatment, the greater the disadvantage to the child. (RSM)

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