Hearing Loss at a Young Age

For many, connection to the world around us comes in a variety of forms that are invisibly underlined by a community of sounds – the whispers of a quiet moment or the important movie scene, the beat of the loud music in a car that’s passing by, the call of a peanut vendor at a baseball game, the distant horns of a long traffic jam, even the rattle of dishes in a crowded restaurant. These invisible links affirm that we are part of what is going on around us. For those individuals with hearing loss, they can miss out on the world around them unless the hearing loss is properly treated

Statistics support 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.1 Approximately 15% of American adults aged 18 and over (totaling 37.5 million) report some trouble hearing.2

While some benefit from surgery to improve their hearing, a majority of those with hearing loss have a permanent hearing loss that requires personal hearing aids in order to communicate.

The increased awareness of hearing loss has led to a rise in identification and treatment of hearing loss for young children. In fact, a majority of states now perform hearing screening for infants before they leave the hospital. More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents3. Many of these hearing parents seek literature for their children to explain hearing loss and the journey to better hearing.

Our staff audiologist, Maureen C. Riski, Au.D, has authored several educational children’s picture books. One hardback book, published by Phonak Inc., features two stories: Leo Gets Hearing Aids and Leo Gets a Roger System. Leo, a young lion cub with hearing loss, helps children feel more comfortable with their hearing loss and their hearing systems. Leo just wants to be like his other friends: do well in school, excel at sports, and have fun. In the past, he’s felt different because of his hearing loss. But now, Leo has hearing aids and a Roger system. His hearing loss doesn’t make him stand out any more, and he can do everything he wants to do. Children with hearing loss undoubtedly relate to Leo’s character.

Another book, Abby Gets a Cochlear Implant, is a children’s picture book illustrating the process of getting a cochlear implant. Abby, who wears purple hearing aids, has a progressive hearing loss and her family chooses a cochlear implant for her. The story goes on to describe hearing testing, cochlear implants and the steps a family would take to explore this option of habilitation for their child who has hearing loss.

“Many families over the years have taken these books to school for show-and-tell or shared the story with friends and families. I am happy to have been a part in educating others about hearing loss”, says Maureen C. Riski, Audiologist.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Identifying infants with hearing loss – United States, 1999-2007. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 59(8): 220-223.
    Vohr B. Overview: infants and children with hearing loss—part I. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2003;9:62–64.
  2. Blackwell DL, Lucas JW, Clarke TC. Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2012 (PDF). National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(260). 2014.
  3. Mitchell RE, Karchmer MA. Chasing the mythical ten percent: Parental hearing status of deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States.(link is external) (PDF) Sign Language Studies. 2004;4(2):138-163.