Think About It! Grandparents are experienced in raising children and often know when a child is not
responding normally to voices or sounds. Grandparents can use the wisdom gained by experience and be on the alert for their grandchildren’s potential hearing problems.
As families discover the many wonderful things that can be done to help their children deal with hearing loss they need to be reminded of these truths: First, children with hearing loss can learn to listen and speak; Second, early sound stimulation enables early speech and language development. The developing brain of an infant and child needs sound stimulation in order to form the correct nerve pathways for future language development. There is a window of opportunity, from infancy to about age five, to provide the sound to the developing brain so that normal hearing pathways can develop. Older children and adults who have never heard sound cannot use some of the best hearing technology because the nerve pathways were never stimulated to develop during that time.
It is also vitally important for families and educators to have high expectations for children with hearing loss. All of us would expect children with ‘normal hearing’ to develop ‘normal speech skills’. Unfortunately, many people expect children with hearing loss to have abnormal speech and poor educational outcomes. However, children with hearing loss, who work with their family, who receive appropriate hearing amplification and who are educated by professionals promoting high expectations commonly have fantastic outcomes. Normal speech and language usually develops through social encounters and an educational structure. For a child with hearing loss to develop normal speech there must be more planning and therapy by a skilled professional, preferably a certified Listen and Spoken Language Specialist. But the rewards are fantastic when we think about these lives that are given this opportunity. Without direct, planned intervention, the outcome for hearing-impaired children and adults is disappointing. Frustration, isolation and decreased educational and economic achievement are commonly realized. Thank God for the many professionals and families who are dedicated to achieve great hearing and spoken language outcomes.
Is there a spiritual corollary here? For those of us who have “ears to hear,” we must be listening to what our
Father is telling us. If the Master has opened your ears to hear what He is saying, He has a plan to use you. God has chosen us to be part of his “team.” We are his tools for reaching a needy world that is spiritually hearing impaired. We are commanded to introduce people to the only One who can bring them to life so that they can hear. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will open their ears so that they can hear and believe and call on Jesus’ name (Romans 10:14). We need to nurture them along, love them, share the truth with them, and be highly motivated and committed to do what God tells us to do. We need to pray that their hearts would not be hard or their ears dull. Only the Father can bring them to life, but we have been commanded to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” For most people in the world, these activities rely on spoken words and messages, but we must always pray that the persons receiving the message will have ears to hear.
About the Writer Dr. Mark Wood is an otologic and neuro-otologic
surgeon in Oklahoma City. He joined the Hough Ear Institute and its affiliate, Otologic Medical Clinic, in 1995. His practice is devoted to otology and neurotology, with a special interest in hearing-related health issues including implantable hearing devices. He earned a degree in biology from OBU, and an M.D. degree from the OU Health Sciences Center. Born in Texas, Wood was raised on the mission field in Zambia, Africa. He and his wife, Amy, are members of Henderson Hills Baptist Church, where he is a Sunday school teacher and active with children’s camps and mission trips. They have three children: Nathan, Amanda and Stephen.
OKLAHOMA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY 3
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