How Hearing Loss Affects Communication

How a child is affected by a hearing loss depends on a number of factors:

  • Type of hearing loss
  • Degree of hearing loss
  • Configuration of hearing loss

Other factors, including:

  • family involvement
  • the age at which hearing loss occurs
  • the age at which hearing loss was identified
  • the age at which intervention was provided
  • the child’s other health conditions

Hearing loss in a child is different than hearing loss in an adult. This is because a child has not yet learned speech and language. Adults with hearing loss can sometimes get by without hearing aids because they know and can apply the rules of language to daily conversations with others. For a child, even a mild hearing loss can affect his ability to develop speech and language skills. Children need to hear all of the sounds of their language in order to learn how to talk.

Children with severe to profound hearing loss often need to learn some form of visual communication, such as sign language, because even with a hearing aid, they may not be able to hear all the sounds of speech. This is not to say that children with severe to profound hearing loss will never learn to talk. Rather, they may need to get speech and language information in ways other than hearing alone.

Children with milder degrees of hearing loss may also benefit from knowing some form of visual communication. There may be times (e.g., swimming, bathing) when a child is not wearing her hearing aids, but needs to communicate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Communication Methods

Types of Communication Options

Below you will find the most commonly used communication methods. When choosing a communication method for your child and family, there are some things to consider: your family’s preference, your child’s development, your family support, your community services, and the expertise of the professionals working with your child. Work with your provider to determine which option is best for your child.

Available Technology

There are also a number of technology options to enhance hearing.