Vision, Hearing and Speech Overview

Vision, hearing, and speech are an important part of your child's life. When an infant first emerges into the world, his/her eyesight is immature, later developing the ability to focus. Hearing appears early in fetal development and is necessary for proper progression of speech and language. Monitoring your child's ability to see, hear, and speak is an important part of the health of your growing child.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recommended the following vision screening stages:

  • newborn

    All newborns are examined in the nursery for eye infections and other eye disorders, such as glaucoma.

  • 6 months

    Visual screening of infants should be performed during the well-baby visits, particularly checking for how the eyes work together.

  • 3 to 4 years

    Formal visual acuity tests and the complete eye examination should be performed.

  • 5 years and older

    Annual visual screening tests and eye examinations should be performed.

Children develop speech, language, and hearing skills at different ages. However, hearing loss can lead to delays in your child's ability to make sounds, learn to speak, and communicate. The AAP recommends hearing screening for all newborns before they leave the hospital. Consult your child's physician if you are concerned about your child's hearing or speech, or if you notice any of the following:

  • no response to sound at any age

  • infant does not move or jump when a loud sound is made

  • no babbling by the time the infant is 9 months old

  • no words spoken by the age of 18 to 24 months

  • does not follow simple commands by 2 years old

  • stuttering continues past 5 years old

  • poor voice quality at any age

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