Hearing and Listening Stages and Challenges

When Hearing and Listening Starts:

Hearing and Listening Stages
Listening starts in the womb

Learning how to listen well is a miraculous process that actually starts when a baby is in the womb. Parents can help develop listening skills by surrounding their baby with enlivening sounds from the moment of birth. In time, the repetition of identical sounds forms a specific relationship in a baby’s brain—words. These words string together to form language, which is filled with seemingly infinite layers of meaning. These meanings are conveyed through inflection, volume and other signals, which enable us to express ourselves and understand each other. By providing the appropriate stimulation, parents can raise a child who is open, receptive and engaged in life. Without this stimulation, however, a child may become withdrawn and frustrated and/or act out inappropriately because s/he lacks the skills to adequately make sense of his or her world. Learning to listen is the key.

Each child comes into this world a wholly unique person who has been assembled from corresponding bits and pieces of each of its parent’s genetic codes. Just as your growing child exhibits an individual personality early on in their development by doing things in their own distinctive way, your child comes with the ability to make auditory connections and to listen and hear in their own way. It pays endless dividends to be in tune with an infant’s particular, individual way of listening from as early on as possible. Of course a newborn’s communication skills are severely limited, but when a parent recognizes that the tiny, distinct personality evolving before their eyes naturally comes equipped to evolve its own way of listening, parents and caregivers are better prepared to contribute to that listening development.

Hearing Loss:

Statistics show that approximately 3 in every 1,000 children have some type of hearing loss. Hearing loss is the result of problems in the middle or inner ear. Hearing loss can be diagnosed at birth (universal screening) or as a child develops. Children with hearing loss can receive auditory input via hearing aids or cochlear implants, depending on the type and degree of the hearing loss. With access to sound, the child needs to learn how to listen through auditory therapy. Receiving a device to receive sound is just the first step in using hearing to learn language, speech and social skills. Learning to listen is the key.

Hearing Stages
Learn how to listen through auditory therapy

APD (Auditory Processing Disorder):

Auditory Processing Disorders, which can be found in 1 in 100 children, are characterized by a confusing ability to hear but not listen well. A child with Auditory Processing issues often presents with limited vocabulary, reading difficulties and frustration in communication. Children may be often diagnosed incorrectly with a learning disability or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), due to similarities in the symptoms. There is no surgery or pill to correct Auditory Processing difficulties, but without intervention, an APD can be devastating for a child as they enter school because good listening skills are essential for success in the classroom.  Learning to listen is the key.

Hearing and Listening
Development Stages:

Parents, other family members, and other caretakers are the child’s interactive partners with a responsibility to meaningfully communicate with infants from the day they arrive in the home. Words and language only have meaning when both the speaker and the listener are committed to sharing the process of communication. For children age 0-5, the bulk of that responsibility rests with the adults that raise them. It’s up to parents, teachers and caregivers to ensure that both they and the child(ren) they care for are committed to what they’re doing together.

 

A child who is not dealing with physical or developmental disadvantages embarks on a journey marked by a clear sequence of growth and a process of focusing and improving their listening skills as they mature. Language development through listening and play develop ins stages and sequentially and interactively.

 

Over the course of these stages shown below, every child forms its own unique canvas of thought processes, ideas, habits, memories and beliefs on what they receive through sensory input. Sensory experiences, hearing seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling all contribute to the child’s cognition, reasoning, and language. The brain builds from the bottom-up and top-down input that it receives from their environment.

Birth-3 months old

Newborn listening to sounds
  • The newborn listens to sounds that are close to them.
  • Unexpected or loud sounds may startle them or make them cry.
  • New and interesting sounds may calm them or cause them to stop movement and “listen” or attend. Recognizing attention in a newborn can be tricky at first. Sometimes it’s only visible in an interruption of sucking on a pacifier or a bottle.
  • The baby begins to localize and turn in the direction of a sound source.
  • A familiar voice gets greeted with a familiar expression, sound or gesture.
  • The baby responds to soft, comforting tones.

Initially your baby communicates by crying. You and the other adults around her begin to read her signals and recognize that the specific cry for being hungry is different than the cry for being wet. Soon she will start making other sounds and playing with her growing ability to vocalize and use repeated sounds that get your attention and approval.

Toys: Choose toys that will appeal to a baby’s senses and formative motor skills:
1-3 months
Musical mobiles, stuffed animals, baby bumpers with pictures.

3-6 months old

  • Sounds begin to have meaning.
  • A child begins to respond to “no.”
  • The baby recognizes changes in voice’s loudness and pitch.
  • Starts to associate word meaning with sound
  • Listens to own voice
  • Rhythm and music draw their own reaction.
  • The baby shows an interest in toys that pair sound with movement like rattles, musical mobiles or anything else designed to make noise when it moves or is moved.
  • The baby demonstrates increased attention to more varied environmental sounds like a vacuum cleaner, a fan, or a door slamming in another room.

At the ninety day mark, your baby is now ready to play. She is awake for longer periods of time, is more physically active and clearly enjoys interacting with you. At this age a child like Chloe can create vowel like and consonant-like sounds using her lips like “p”, “b”, and “m.”

Toys: 3-6 months

wrist rattles, squeeze toys, teething toys, crib-gym exercisers, kick toy noisemakers

6-12 months old

1 year old hearing bye-bye
  • The child begins to listen and pay attention when spoken to.
  • The child responds to her name by turning.
  • Able to focus listening for longer periods of time
  • The baby begins to like and play games that pair voice with movements.
  • Familiar words (names of daily used objects and frequently seen people) are recognized in familiar contexts.
  • The baby responds to familiar requests like waving bye-bye, or being asked to give something to the parent.
  • The child recognizes sounds paired with objects like an animal sound with the appropriate animal.

At 6-12 months your baby is awake even more and therefore more available to play. As the 12 month mark approaches your child clearly understands more about the world around him/her. During this time your baby’s speech makes a big leap forward. Over the course of year one to two, most children go from babbling to creating nonsense words to learning and using real words and finally to using real words in two word combinations.

Toys: 6-9 months

Brightly colored and patterned chewable soft blocks, tub toys that aren’t small enough to swallow and more soft stuffed animals.


Toys: 9-12 months

Stacking rings. Balls. Toy farm animals and animal sound toys with different textures. Duplo-leggo blocks, Shape Sorter.

1-2 years old

  • The child begins to show specific comprehension of words.
  • The child can point out and identify pictures and objects by their names.
  • Can also point to simple body parts on themselves and others.
  • Imitates words heard.
  • The child can follow 1-step commands or requests like “Where’s the kitty?” or “Throw the ball.”
  • The child likes listening to simple stories

During this time your baby’s speech makes a big leap forward. Over the course of year one to two, most children go from babbling to creating nonsense words to learning and using real words and finally to using real words in two-word combinations.

Toys: 12 – 18 months

Detailed, sturdy and washable! Large dolls, plastic containers, pounding toys, pots and pans, musical instruments, large blocks made of soft materials or covered in vinyl, picture books, a toy bus, and bubbles.

*Young Preschool – Toys: 18 to 36 Months

Large piece puzzles, match games, tea set, books with more text, play dough and plastic cookie cutters, a dollhouse.

Using:

  • 1cup flour
  • 1tablesppon of cooking oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2teaspoons cream of tartar
  • And several drops of food coloring of your choice

 

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture forms a ball (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from pan and knead until smooth. Store it in a covered container when it’s not being used.

2-3 years old

toddler and listen to songs and dance
  • The child’s understanding broadens to include following 2-step commands and requests like “Pick up your crayons and put them in the box.”
  • He or she attaches meanings and activities to environmental sounds like attempting to answer a ringing phone or running to the door at the sound of a doorbell.
  • The child begins to understand concepts and their opposites like “hot” and “cold,” “up and down,” and “stop and go.”
  • The child loves to listen to songs and rhymes and can incorporate body and hand movements to go with some of them.

Toddlers often repeat activities over and over during this stage of development. They constantly want to play the same games, read the same books and sing the same songs because they are learning to establish their own rhythm and patterns, make choices and form the basis for counting.

 

During this year your child(ren) expresses their natural need for control and desire for independence by going where they want, grabbing things and saying “no” to get attention. They may be exhausting to keep up with and clean up after and all those “no!”s and struggling can feel pretty monotonous and negative, but it’s a social and developmental period a child has to go through to find the power of language and how to function in social interactions.

Toys: Young Preschool – Toys: 18 to 36 Months old

Large piece puzzles, match games, tea set, books with more text play dough and plastic cookie cutters, a doll house.

3-4 years old

  • The child can hear and understand at increasing distances from the source of a sound.
  • He or she understands “why” questions like “who,” “what,” and “where.”
  • Social interactions with other children become more important.
  • Listens to longer stories.
  • Attention span increases.
  • Links what were two separate pieces of info into one

Toddlers often repeat activities over and over during this stage of development. They constantly want to play the same games, read the same books and sing the same songs because they are learning to establish their own rhythm and patterns, make choices and form the basis for counting.

 

During this year your child(ren) expresses their natural need for control and desire for independence by going where they want, grabbing things and saying “no” to get attention. They may be exhausting to keep up with and clean up after and all those “no!”s and struggling can feel pretty monotonous and negative, but it’s a social and developmental period a child has to go through to find the power of language and how to function in social interactions.

Toys: –  3-5 year-olds

Tricycle, flannel board, puppets, chalkboard, paper dolls, stencils, theme-specific props and costumes, art materials, pretend food and shopping cart, cash register with play money, more advanced puzzles with more and smaller pieces, simple board games like picture bingo, Lotto, and Picture Dominos.

4-5 years old

Listening Skills for Kindergarten
  • Enjoyment and understanding of stories deepens. The child is now able to answer questions about the stories and shows increasing comprehension.
  • He or she is able to take turns in a conversation by understanding and listening for the cues that indicate turn-taking.
  • Understands longer and more complex sentences
  • Retells longer stories with more details
  • By this age, a child’s language and narrative skills have progressed and she’s able to grasp a pencil and begin to write. She’s also becoming more independent and dressing.
  • Four and five year old’s love ball games and start learning and playing games that have rules.

 

Over the past 12 months, your child(ren) has learned how to use the second or less pause as a cue for initiating his turn to speak. They have also been initiated into the difficulties of simultaneous talking and interruption and will now give up a turn to speak to keep an interesting or emotionally engaging conversation going. A child with this degree of social skills – able to take turns, talk and listen – is ready for kindergarten.