Frequently Asked Questions

My doctor said lots of kids don’t pass newborn screening. Should I be worried?

Every year about 3 in 1000 newborns are identified with some degree of hearing loss. The sooner that loss is identified, the more successful you and your child will be in the future. The diagnostic process is usually relatively quick and easy – your baby can (and should!) sleep right through it! If your child does have a hearing loss, identifying it and managing it will make all the difference in their future, and knowing the results will make all the difference in your peace of mind.

How old should my child be before I go for diagnosis?

Painless and simple testing can be done on babies of any age. The most important thing is to get tested as soon as possible. Your baby’s brain is developing fast, and any nerve system that is not stimulated won’t continue to develop. If they do have a hearing loss and you want them to learn to talk, it is essential that you get diagnostic testing as soon as you can.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You can ask if your baby needs further evaluation, if one or both ears are affected, how severe does it seem to be, and are there other concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask what is going to happen next. You are the parent/caregiver and need to be prepared.

My child has been diagnosed with a hearing loss. Is it possible for my child to hear and speak?

For most children, even those with severe or profound hearing loss, the answer is YES! Nearly every child can use some form of amplification (hearing aids or cochlear implants) that will give them access not just to sound, but to the sound of your voice! We all learn to talk by listening to those around us – listening to lullabies and nursery rhymes and peek-a-boo. Your child can learn to talk by listening with the help of technology such as hearing aids which are readily available in most areas.

Most kids don’t learn to talk until they are two. Don’t I have plenty of time?

Talking is a process that takes time to develop. We all start by listening to the talking going on around us. Then we practice by cooing and babbling. Finally, after lots of trial and error, we produce those first words, and eventually talk in one and two word combinations somewhere between our first and second birthday. But the longer we wait to start the process of listening, the longer it will take and the harder it will be to learn to talk. If your child has a hearing loss from birth, they have already missed months of hearing in utero! If you want your child to learn to talk, you need to get started NOW!

Where should I go for help?

Right here! St. Joseph can supply services to you no matter where you live. Contact us directly and we will be glad to provide you with information on navigating your next steps. Your pediatrician or your birthing facility can direct you to where you can get your baby’s hearing tested. Once you have a diagnosis and get amplification, you need to seek professional support right away. In most states there are programs that support families of children from birth through three years of age. St. Joseph is ready to help you get connected and find the help you need.

Do I need specialized services?

Yes! While hearing loss is one of the most common birth differences, it is still considered “low incidence”. In other words, most professionals have little experience with children with hearing loss. You need professionals who help families and babies on a daily basis, and understand your concerns. With 175 years of experience, St. Joseph Institute can support you, and help you get the services you need.

What expenses are involved?

Hearing testing is covered by insurance, children’s health care, and Medicaid. Most states have programs under the federal IDEA law that provides services to families based on their income levels, and many include the costs of amplification (hearing aids). For many families, there is little or no cost involved. Your health care providers can help guide you through obtaining hearing aids. If you choose services from St. Joseph Institute, many are covered by your state’s programs. Contact us and we can help you through the processes.

Questions? Contact us at 314-918-1369 (St. Louis) or 317-471-8560 (Indianapolis) for assistance.