Have you ever listened to music while wearing headphones and then tried to sing along? If anyone was around I bet you got some funny looks. When you aren’t able to hear your own sounds, this impacts your speech. You suddenly have an inability to sing on-key.
Hearing loss affects more than just understanding speech. It also affects their speech sounds others interact with. Spoken language is a huge part of the way we connect with the world. When someone has a new degree of hearing, the way they interact will be different. Social isolation or depression can be a result of this uncertainty.
This is why a family needs to gain as much understanding as possible of how they can support their loved one with hearing loss. There are many degrees of hearing so each case will be different. The more you learn and work together the more difficulties will become easier to navigate.
Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Speech?
When you understand how hearing loss affects speech and language, you will be able to support your loved one in their hearing loss experience. This will impact attitude towards hearing loss in both the adults with hearing and the adult with hearing impairment.
When someone experiences hearing loss, consonants are the first sounds to become harder to speak. Vowel sounds are much easier to form than consonants. They don’t require the same mouth movements of the jaw and tongue that consonants do. Your letters become less sharp. The vibration in your head made by speaking isn’t noticed and it becomes harder to recognize if you are pronouncing words correctly.
Hearing loss affects children and adults differently as they are in different stages of development of speech. Difficulty overtime may be dependent on the hearing loss treatment and the severity of the hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Effects on Speech of Children
First, you need to identify the hearing impairments in children with hearing. A hearing appointment with a hearing professional will give you an idea of whether your child has mild hearing loss or severe hearing loss.
A child is developing their critical language skills and you will notice some differences in their speech especially with untreated hearing loss. They may be slow to learn to speak or have a smaller vocabulary. Their difficulty hearing can isolate them from friends. They may speak too loudly because they can’t hear their own noise.
They also may have trouble interpreting complex speech that involves emotions. The change in pitch and voices is lost on them. They are trying so hard to hear the sounds that they don’t have enough time and headspace to interpret meaning. Similar to when you learn a new language and you’re speaking to someone with more language skills, it is hard for you to pick up on jokes and emotions. You are busy focusing on simpler language strategies.
Hearing Loss Effects on Adults
Adults can develop age-related hearing loss or any hearing impairments after their vital speech skills have been well-established. They are often surprised at how that can affect their speech. Untreated hearing loss in adults is common when they don’t think it is severe enough for a hearing evaluation.
Audiologists at a family hearing center often offer a complimentary hearing assessment. Then you can get a good idea of the severity and the impact it is having.
There are areas of your brain that work together when hearing sounds. When your auditory nerve isn’t receiving the information due to hearing impairments, that area of your brain shrinks due to lack of use. This damage can make it difficult to understand certain words or concepts.
Untreated hearing loss can have devastating effects on a person. This is why treatment is so important. Hearing aids are used often to minimize the amount of difficulty overtime patients experience.
Hearing Loss Can Affect Speech and Communication
Family involvement and support play a huge role in the effect of hearing loss on a person. Parents supporting their child in speech therapy and sign language makes a huge difference in their attitude towards language and communication. Speech delays can isolate a child and make it harder for them to form relationships. Changes in speech as an adult can make them self-conscious and unsure of themselves. This also makes it more likely that they would isolate from others.
Treating Hearing Loss
Language centers work with people through language therapy. They help navigate the hearing loss and lower its impact on a person’s ability to communicate. They can help with conductive hearing loss, high-frequency hearing loss, and sensorineural hearing loss. They can help build a community around those that may be feeling isolated. There are a lot of resources for connecting with other people in similar situations as well.
With new technology, there are so many resources available to patients with hearing loss. New tools to navigate speech and hearing have changed the way hearing loss is treated in adults and children. There is no reason to let time pass with untreated hearing loss.
The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Communication
Nobody has the same type of hearing loss. Everyone’s ears are different just like a fingerprint. We talked about language development and vocabulary in a child’s life being affected by hearing loss. Voice is also affected for both children and adults.
Hearing impairments may change the way a person sounds to themselves and to others. Just like the headphones example. Headphones can also lead you to talk very loudly. This makes sense. You lose that perception of how you sound in the world when you aren’t picking up on sounds the same way as the people around you. Hearing aids help people to realize just how loud they are speaking.
Hearing loss can make someone feel less confident in the way they are understood. This can lead them to repeat something over and over to make sure that they are being understood. Someone with hearing loss benefits from seeing the person’s mouth who is talking. If they look away for a moment while they are being talked to they may ask the person to repeat themselves. This can be frustrating for both people in the conversation.
Hearing sounds faintly can make someone believe something is much farther away than it is. Someone can be close to them talking and they may not know they are talking to them. They hear the sound like a far away sound and don’t pick up on the conversation they are being invited into.
Background noise becomes a big problem with people experiencing hearing loss. There is some realistic background noise that is expected to always be present, but some situations are overwhelming. Hearing loss impacts your ability to sort through the sounds. Clanging dishes, crowds of people, and other background noises make communicating in these environments very difficult.
Some hearing aids have a technology feature where they offer noise control. The hearing aid recognizes speech and keeps that sound while lowering the background noise. Some hearing aids offer this feature automatically when your environment changes to be very loud. That way you don’t have to spend the time changing the settings of the hearing aids.
Relationships with People with Hearing Loss
Social outings and conversations for people with hearing loss change dramatically. You cannot be fully connected with someone when you aren’t picking up on everything that is being said or happening around you.
This is why the understanding and support of friends and family is so important. That way you can understand the changes in their speech and possibly how they communicate. You can help them stay connected with others and yourself.
The severity of the impairments may change over time. Potential hearing loss can be scary for anyone, and not knowing what will happen with future hearing loss. Getting treatment and support for hearing loss lessens the impact on speech and allows you to navigate the condition with as many resources as possible.