Early hearing aids help speech development

Talk just a few minutes with 11 year old Makenzie, and you'll see that she's full of spunk.  She chatters endlessly about school activities which include everything from softball to Beta Club.  Not surprisingly, the soon-to-be sixth grader is an excellent student.  However, what may be surprising is that she has hearing loss.

"Makenzie didn't pass initial screening test when she was born and when she came back continued not to pass," explained audiologist Dawn Quantrille who has treated Makenzie since she was born.

"I didn't know the extent of what exactly it was until I heard that and then Dawn showed me that," said mom Amber Templet. "It was an eye opener to say, 'Ok we need to get down to business and make sure she's catching everything.'"

At one month old, Makenzie was diagnosed with permanent hearing loss and by five months she was fitted with her first hearing aid - which she has worn ever since.

It hasn't slowed her down.

"I like to show myself that I can do a lot of things not just because I have hearing aids, that I'm just normal person," said Makenzie.

Audiologists say if a child is fitted with a hearing aid by six months of age and they wear them consistently, there is very little impact on their speech and language developments.   Makenzie can attest to that. Her speech is nearly flawless.

While she handles her hearing aid with grace, many adults shy away from an aid when they need one.

"I think a lot of times hearing is neglected because there is a stigma attached to hearing aids," said Quantrille.

However, since she began practicing in the early 90's, Quantrille says hearing aids have come a long way.  They are much smaller and can be program to your specific hearing needs.

The audiologist also points out that many insurance companies don't cover hearing aids.

There are also more teens with hearing damage.  According to Quantrille, about one in four teens have hearing loss which she attributes to loud music and headphones.

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