These critical periods of development are referred to as “Windows of Opportunity.” It is widely accepted that the first few years of life is the time during which children learn language skills most efficiently. The number of experiences that young children have with language during the first few years of life will affect their ability to communicate throughout their lifetime.
During this early period, sound stimulates the growth connections between the infant’s ear and the area of the brain that makes sense out of the sound. Hearing babies are stimulated with sound 24 hours a day. All of this stimulation results in a rich network of nerve pathways between the inner ear and the auditory center of the brain. When the ears do not work properly, the auditory center of the brain does not get the stimulation needed to grow and develop.
That is why an undiagnosed hearing loss in early childhood can permanently affect a child’s ability to hear and understand subtle sounds and differences, even if the hearing loss is treated later. Although children who have a hearing loss may be deprived from meaningful access to spoken language, their brains are fully equipped to acquire language and they must be exposed to it in meaningful ways.
Acquiring language and communicating effectively is the challenge that is facing you and your child today. It will require considerable time and patience. You can succeed with hard work.