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My Baby Failed the Newborn Hearing Screening

Updated on March 14, 2013


A Referred Newborn Hearing Screening is Not as Bad as You Think


Communication is the key to any relationship, make sure your newborn has a hearing screening so there is no precious time lost.
Communication is the key to any relationship, make sure your newborn has a hearing screening so there is no precious time lost. | Source

When I became pregnant with my 4th beautiful child I knew she would be special as a month before I had become pregnant with her I was told I would not be able to have any more children, however I did not know that she would be so special that she would be teaching me a new way to communicate and experience life, and even though my husband’s family history showed a great deal of hearing loss and deafness, when my child was born and she referred on her newborn hearing screening it still came as a bit of a shock to us that she failed the hearing screening.



What to do When Your Newborn Refers on the Newborn Hearing Screening


If your newborn has referred on the newborn hearing screening, first of all know that you are not alone. Sometimes a newborn will refer on the newborn hearing screening, meaning that the newborn’s brain did not respond to the sounds played during the test resulting in a failed or referred hearing screening, but don’t panic, as there is more than just one cause as to why a newborn might refer on the newborn hearing screening.



Yes a failed hearing screening might mean that your child has hearing loss or deafness, but sometimes the cause of a failed newborn hearing screening is simply blockage, which may clear up on its own. So set up a second hearing screening for your newborn within the week, as it may just turn out your newborn is able to hear just fine but had a little blockage.



What Happens if My Child Fails the Second Hearing Screening & What is the OAE Exam?


If your baby refers on the second hearing test, again don’t panic as it could be that your newborn may still have some type of blockage, which can be determined by an audiology test called the Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) exam. The OAE is a really quick test where the audiologist will place a very small speaker and microphone in the opening of your child’s ear to transmit sounds into your child’s ear to measure the acoustic emissions that the inner ear (cochlea) produces in response to the sounds and is completely painless. If it turns out your child just has some blockage the audiologist will be able to use the results of the OAE to advise you on what you can do for your child.


If the OAE determines that your child does not have any blockage, the next audiology exam will be the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test. The ABR test will help the audiologist determine the amount of hearing loss your child has in regards to the decibel level your child is able to hear sounds at. The ABR test is also a painless exam where the audiologist will place 4 to 5 electrodes on your child's head to record the electrical activity created by the brainstem's response to sound, though it is not as quick as the OAE and needs to be done while your child is sleeping (depending on your child’s age and sleep habits your child may have to undergo anesthesia).



The ABR Results are in Should I Teach My Baby Sign Language?

Once the ABR is done, the audiologist may provide you with information about hearing loss, cochlear implants, and resources that can help with your child’s hearing loss and ability to communicate. As a parent who knows that growing to be a healthy, responsible, adult requires a healthy individual childhood development I myself have left the decision of getting cochlear implants up to my daughter, however if you do decide to get cochlear implants for your child I highly recommend that you still involve yourself and your child in learning sign language, as technology can fail and by teaching your baby sign language you will provide your child with the tools to communicate whether your child can hear or not.


If the audiologist doesn’t mention any programs available to help you learn sign language, ask your audiologist or the director of audiology if they happen to know of any programs offered by the state that can help you learn sign language. The state I live in actually has a program where a person who is fluent in sign language will meet with families who have immediate family members with hearing loss or deafness to help them learn how to sign and communicate. Though programs like that can be extremely helpful, you’ll quickly realize that even with a weekly lesson you will still need some other resources to help you learn how to sign.



Helpful Resources to Learn Sign Language


Having multiple resources that can help you build communication between you and your child will be the key not only to learning sign language but also to your sanity, so I have compiled a list of a couple websites that I found really helpful every time I have found myself needing to learn a new sign, as well as a listing of schools for the deaf across the U.S. so that you can seek helpful sign language materials and resources from a school for the deaf in your area.


American Sign Language Browser has pretty much every sign there is, however the sign language video demonstrations are done on Apple QuickTime which gives you the benefit of being able to play the video frame by frame with the rewind and fast forward controls, but does not allow you to resize the video to a larger view.



Signing Savvyis a membership site that allows you to look up 5 signs a day without membership. This site also has a large vocabulary of signs and the sign language video demonstrations on this site provide a little larger view as well as allow you the option to see the finger spelling of the sign.


Everyday ASL is more of a production based company that produces American Sign Language tutorial videos and DVDs that are geared towards adult viewers, the signs are easy to see making learning ASL easier. Though the majority of Everyday ASL’s productions can only be purchased, you can find some of their ASL tutorials that they have released for free on YouTube such as the video to the right.



Signing Time is also more of a production based company however the Signing Time videos are geared more towards captivating and teaching children and they have other educational materials such as flash cards and music CDs as well. My children and I really enjoyed watching the Signing Time videos together and they were really helpful in getting our vocabulary up to par, though my husband would never let me live it down if I published this without saying something about how Rachel Coleman doesn’t sign all the words she sings in the videos. If you would like to see what the Signing Time ASL tutorials are like, just watch a short Signing Time ASL tutorial offered on the Signing Time YouTube channel.


Deaf Education has a listing of all the schools for the deaf across the U.S. as well as the contact information for each. You would be surprised at all the resources the school for the deaf has to offer, so be sure to check with a school for the deaf in your area.


Would You Teach Your Child Sign Language (ASL)?

Would You Teach Your Child Sign Language (ASL)?

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Copyright © 5/12/2012 by Best Relationship

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      Page1 SEO tactics 4 years ago

      A Very informative and helpful article, when your child fails a hearing screening it can be very emotionally stressful but it is a bit comforting to know that blockage could be the cause. Thanks for explaining the process, and making it a bit less stressful, as finding out whether the failed hearing test is caused by some kind of blockage or the development of the ear is important for development of the child. It's also great that you have provided resources to help people learn ASL (American Sign Language). Voted up and useful.