General Considerations

Most people are fortunate to hear the sounds of music, noise, and, above all, speech. Sometimes ''silence is golden,'' but silence can be golden only when a person can choose not to hear.

Although normal children are born with the apparatus necessary to produce speech, they are not born with speech. The ear and brain integrate and process sound, enabling the child to learn to imitate it. If sound cannot be heard, it cannot be imitated. Sounds will not become words;words will not become sentences;sentences will not become speech;speech will not become language.

Hearing is a perceptual process. To illustrate this concept, consider tinnitus as an example. Tinnitus, the name given to a sensation of sound in one or both ears, commonly accompanies deafness. When tinnitus is present, there is nearly always some degree of hearing loss. Conversely, when there is no appreciable hearing loss, there is rarely tinnitus. However, children who are born deaf do not complain of tinnitus.

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