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child-health | safety-tips

Checking Baby’s Hearing – S3 E9

Infant Sensory Screenings measure a newborn’s hearing and seeing. When hearing loss is detected early on, families can start exploring interventions sooner to support their little ones as they grow up.

Jessica chats with Morgan Scadden, Sensory Screening Program Manager with the Arizona Department of Health Services, about the screening process and why it’s important to take the screening seriously.

Podcast Resources:
NTRC: Arizona Early Hearing Detection & Intervention (EHDI) Information
AZDHS Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs
Strong Families AZ

Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She is married, has two young children, and loves reading (anything except parenting books!) and watching movies and TV. She loves to spend time with her kids (when they aren’t driving her crazy) and celebrating all of their little, and big, accomplishments. Jessica has been in the field of family and child development for over 20 years, working towards normalizing the hard work of parenting and making it easier to ask the hard questions.

host Guest: Morgan Scadden is Sensory Screening Program Manager with the Arizona Department of Health Services


Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez, an Arizona [00:00:10] working mom and Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Being a parent is incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with a lot of challenges. [00:00:20] Taking it one step at a time with the right advice from experts can make your parenting journey a little more manageable. [00:00:30]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Thank you for joining me on this episode of The Parenting Brief. All children develop differently, and when assessing [00:00:40] possible developmental delays or disabilities such as hearing loss, sensory screenings can help with early identification. Catching a concern early can make a world of difference for you [00:00:50] and your child.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: In today’s episode, we welcome Morgan Scadden, the Sensory Screening [00:01:00] Program Manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Thank you so much for joining us, Morgan.

Morgan Scadden: Thanks, Jessica, for having me.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So when we talk about sensory [00:01:10] screening, can you explain a little bit about what that means?

Morgan Scadden: So usually when we’re talking about sensory screening, what we’re referring to are [00:01:20] screening how a baby is hearing and seeing. Specifically for newborns, we’re usually referring to hearing [00:01:30] screenings.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: And how does a newborn have their hearing checked?

Morgan Scadden: So in the state of Arizona, all hospitals [00:01:40] screen newborn hearing before they go home. And they use what is called rapid [00:01:50] ABR technology. So they put little electrodes on the baby’s forehead and they put little like earmuff cups over their ears [00:02:00] and they play little sounds and those electrodes measure the baby’s brain response to the sound.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: And what is the purpose or the importance [00:02:10] of having that hearing screening done so early?

Morgan Scadden: We know in the field of hearing loss that some [00:02:20] of the time, babies are born with their hearing loss. And when we’re able to identify that as early as possible, which we can do [00:02:30] shortly after birth, utilizing that technology, it allows us to begin interventions almost immediately. And by starting [00:02:40] whatever those interventions look like, whether that is starting to utilize sign language, getting in with an audiologist to get fitted for hearing aids, [00:02:50] we can start to make sure that that baby hasn’t missed any time in access to language.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: How should a parent kind of expect or [00:03:00] manage some of that process of, hey, your newborn’s getting screened for hearing, um, and here’s kind of what to expect, so it just doesn’t feel so overwhelming?

Morgan Scadden: [00:03:10] It is important to take the screening seriously, but I don’t think that people should be worried or scared regardless of the outcome. The [00:03:20] screening means that we just need more information to be able to help you help your baby the best way that we can. And so, if your baby [00:03:30] doesn’t pass the initial screening, they’ll do one more before you go home.

Morgan Scadden: And if the baby doesn’t pass again, they’ll refer you to an audiologist [00:03:40] so that you can get a more comprehensive picture of what’s going on and whether additional support will be beneficial to you.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: When is the next time [00:03:50] that their child would receive another hearing screening?

Morgan Scadden: So the state of Arizona doesn’t have requirements for hearing [00:04:00] screenings to happen between that newborn screening and school age. So it’s entirely possible that a kiddo wouldn’t be screened again [00:04:10] until they start kindergarten.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Are there specific signs or common signs that a child may show that may indicate that a hearing [00:04:20] screening is necessary prior to that school entry time?

Morgan Scadden: Absolutely. Typically, what hearing loss will impact is language acquisition. [00:04:30] So, any time that we have concerns that a kiddo’s vocabulary isn’t inside a normal range or [00:04:40] their pronunciation of words falls outside of typical, if kiddos tend to be less [00:04:50] social, if they’re not responding to their name or sounds, they all kind of vary based on those age range milestones for what we expect to see [00:05:00] for social skills and understanding and communicating.

Morgan Scadden: But anytime we see delays in those [00:05:10] areas, it’s always a good idea to check hearing because it’s an easy thing to address and if we miss it, if we miss a hearing loss that is there, [00:05:20] other supports for things like developing social skills or improving language and communication skills won’t be as effective.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: How would a [00:05:30] parent be able to identify that there is a concern even earlier, prior to that language acquisition at all? So maybe more of the, in that infant stage.

Morgan Scadden: [00:05:40] Hearing loss happens in a wide range and the way that we measure it is at [00:05:50] individual pitches or frequencies and how loud does that specific frequency have to be before our brain recognizes that [00:06:00] sound is happening there. And so for that reason, you could have a hearing loss that only affects very high pitched [00:06:10] soft sounds like an S or an F that don’t have any voicing or power behind them. And if that was the case, you probably wouldn’t [00:06:20] notice in your infant because babies don’t make F and S sounds.

Morgan Scadden: And that’s really tricky for parents who have kiddos in that with a [00:06:30] hearing loss in that mild to moderate range where it’s primarily high frequency sounds that babies don’t say. But they’re hearing environmental sounds, [00:06:40] they are saying all of their vowels that happen in baby cooing and that initial babble, which is another reason that those early screenings are [00:06:50] important and being able to ask those questions and really talk to audiologists, early intervention specialists, teachers of the deaf, speech pathologists who specialize in [00:07:00] working with kiddos with hearing loss, so they can really help you understand what sounds your child can and cannot access.[00:07:10]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: If this was helpful to you, make sure to check out the show notes for more information on [00:07:20] available resources. And make sure to follow The Parenting Brief on this podcast player, so you can stay in the loop on the latest tips to help your child thrive. Please share this podcast with [00:07:30] other parents or soon to be parents in your life.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Until next episode, this is Jessica. You’ve got this. [00:07:40]

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