It is essential to check newborn babies and children for hearing and vision problems. Any abnormalities should be found earlier to prevent them to affecting their growth and development. Hearing and vision problems will also affect the child’s speech and language development as well as the social skills. The first hearing and vision screening will be done shortly after the birth of the child. It is done before the mother and child leave the maternity unit. It can even be carried out at home.
Routine hearing test:
If the child doesn’t pass the first hearing test by the doctor, it may require another round of test by the audiologist. If the audiologist does not find any major issues, he/she will give a checklist according to which the parents should monitor the hearing development of the child. Sounds that the babies normally make , and sound they should respond to , will include in the monitoring. Normal hearing developments in the first year of life may include:
- The child will jump at loud noises from the birth itself.
- The child will start to notice sudden and prolonged sounds from the first month.
- The child will start to show responses to the familiar voices and show excitement at sounds and smiles by the 4th month.
- The child will start to make coos, babbles, gurgles and turns the head to familiar voices in the 7th or 9th month onwards.
- The child will start to respond certain words (including their names) by the 12th month or after.
Another health and development review of the child should be done between 2 and 2 ½ years of age. During this monitoring, the child’s hearing and speech development should also be included. Next routine hearing test should be conducted when they start their school (at around 5 years). The parents should check hearing and vision development of the child periodically to ensure everything is normal.
Routine Eye test:
The first eye test is done within the 72 hours of birth. The second vision screening is done between the 6th or 8th week after birth. This screening is usually done by the pediatrician. Like hearing, a child’s vision also develops gradually, step by step:
- With their eyes, the child follows a colourful or interesting object or face when it is 6 weeks old.
- The child starts to reach for things they see during the 2nd and 3rd months.
- The child starts to mimic facial expressions and look at objects more closely during the 3rd and 5th months.
- The child starts to focus on near and far objects and sees simple shaped during 6th and 12 months. The child may even start scribbling on papers or walls during this time.
Further vision screenings should be done before they start their schooling.
Common signs of hearing and vision problems:
Abnormalities in vision and hearing of the can be detected during the routine screening test. Apart from that, the parents can check for certain signs in older children. Some of the common signs of hearing problems may include:
- Unresponsive to sounds.
- Talking loudly.
- Listening to music or television at a high volume.
- Being disturbed or inconvenient at school.
Signs of possible vision problems may include:
- Not recognising familiar faces.
- Abnormal eye movements.
- Misalignment of the eyes.
- Poor eye contact.
- Poor attention at school.
- Reading difficulties etc.