Hearing Loss
Effects of Hearing Loss on Development

Effects of Hearing Loss on Development

It is well recognized that hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication, and learning. Children with listening difficulties due to hearing loss or auditory processing problems continue to be an underidentified and underserved population.

The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious the effects on the child's development. Similarly, the earlier the problem is identified and intervention begun, the less serious the ultimate impact.

There are four major ways in which hearing loss affects children:

  1. It causes delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language).
  2. The language deficit causes learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement.
  3. Communication difficulties often lead to social isolation and poor self-concept.
  4. It may have an impact on vocational choices.

Specific Effects


  • Vocabulary develops more slowly in children who have hearing loss.
  • Children with hearing loss learn concrete words like cat, jump, five, and red more easily than abstract words like before, after, equal to, and jealous. They also have difficulty with function words like the, an, are, and a.
  • The gap between the vocabulary of children with normal hearing and those with hearing loss widens with age. Children with hearing loss do not catch up without intervention.
  • Children with hearing loss have difficulty understanding words with multiple meanings. For example, the word bank can mean the edge of a stream or a place where we put money.

Sentence Structure

  • Children with hearing loss comprehend and produce shorter and simpler sentences than children with normal hearing.
  • Children with hearing loss often have difficulty understanding and writing complex sentences, such as those with relative clauses ("The teacher whom I have for math was sick today.") or passive voice ("The ball was thrown by Mary.")
  • Children with hearing loss often cannot hear word endings such as -s or -ed. This leads to misunderstandings and misuse of verb tense, pluralization, nonagreement of subject and verb, and possessives.


  • Children with hearing loss often cannot hear quiet speech sounds such as "s," "sh," "f," "t," and "k" and therefore do not include them in their speech. Thus, speech may be difficult to understand.
  • Children with hearing loss may not hear their own voices when they speak. They may speak too loudly or not loud enough. They may have a speaking pitch that is too high. They may sound like they are mumbling because of poor stress, poor inflection, or poor rate of speaking.

Academic Achievement

  • Children with hearing loss have difficulty with all areas of academic achievement, especially reading and mathematical concepts.
  • Children with mild to moderate hearing losses, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing, unless appropriate management occurs.
  • Children with severe to profound hearing loss usually achieve skills no higher than the third- or fourth-grade level, unless appropriate educational intervention occurs early.
  • The gap in academic achievement between children with normal hearing and those with hearing loss usually widens as they progress through school.
  • The level of achievement is related to parental involvement and the quantity, quality, and timing of the support services children receive.

Social Functioning

  • Children with severe to profound hearing losses often report feeling isolated, without friends, and unhappy in school, particularly when their socialization with other children with hearing loss is limited.
  • These social problems appear to be more frequent in children with a mild or moderate hearing losses than in those with a severe to profound loss.

What You Can Do

Recent research indicates that children identified with a hearing loss who begin services early may be able to develop language (spoken and/or signed) on a par with their hearing peers. If a hearing loss is detected in your child, early family-centered intervention is recommended to promote language (speech and/or signed depending on family choices) and cognitive development. An audiologist, as part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals, will evaluate your child and suggest the most appropriate audiologic intervention program.





Hearing loss is rarely sudden or total, unless you are exposed to an exceptionally loud noise. It’s usually gradual – sometimes so gradual that your family and friends may notice the problem before you do.

Here are ten questions that will help you determine whether you (or a friend or family member) should have your hearing professionally tested by a hearing healthcare professional.  


1.Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?

2.Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?

3.Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?

4.Do you have to strain to understand conversation?

5.Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?

6.Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?

7.Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?

8.Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?

9.Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?

10.Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?


If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may want to schedule a professional hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional.

The material on this page is for general information only and is not intended for diagnostic or treatment purposes. A doctor or other health care professional must be consulted for diagnostic information and advice regarding treatment.

What should I do with hearing loss?

What should I do with hearing loss?

Hearing problems are serious. The most important thing you can do if you think you have a hearing problem is to go see a hearing healthcare professional. Your primary doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat.

An otolaryngologist will try to find out why you have a hearing loss and offer treatment options.He or she may also refer you to another hearing professional, who may be an audiologist. An audiologist can measure your hearing. Sometimes otolaryngologists and audiologists work together to find the treatment that is right for you. If you need a hearing aid, an audiologist or hearing aid provider can help you find the right one.

Your friends and family can also help make hearing easier. Here are some things you can do:

Tell your friends and family about your hearing loss. They need to know that hearing is hard for you. The more you tell the people you spend time with, the more they can help you.

Ask your friends and family to face you when they talk so that you can see their faces. If you watch their faces move and see their expressions, it may help you to understand them better.

Ask people to speak louder, but not shout. Tell them they do not have to talk slowly, just more clearly.

Turn off the TV or the radio if it does not have to be on.

Be aware of noise around you that can make hearing more difficult. When you go to a restaurant, do not sit near the kitchen or near a band playing music. Background noise makes it hard to hear people talk.

Working together to hear better may be tough on everyone for a while. It will take time for you to get used to watching people as they talk and for people to get used to speaking louder and more clearly. Be patient and continue to work together. Hearing better is worth the effort.

Your MP3 Player and Hearing Loss

Your MP3 Player and Hearing Loss

Nothing helps ease your morning commute more than listening to some music on your iPod, or maybe the latest news podcast so you’ll be up-to-date with what’s going on in the world before you get to the office.  Whatever the reason, the accessibility of MP3 players means more people are using headphones than ever before, and with that comes the risk of hearing loss.

Between 1988 to 1994 hearing loss in the United States increased 14.9 percent; this was also around the time Walkmans were highly popular.  With the rise of the iPod and other MP3 players more and more people are watching movies, listening to music or podcasts and completely tuning out the world around them.  Chances are people don’t even realize the amount of damage they are doing to their ears; if you are able to hear someone’s music even when they are wearing headphones, then chances are there is damage being done.  One study shows that about one in five teens, roughly 6.5 million people, have some form of hearing loss.

There are some easy ways to avoid damaging your hearing; earplugs can be helpful if you’re going to concerts.  Lots of people leave concerts with a ringing in their ears, which is a sure sign hearing damage has been done; wearing earplugs can help prevent the damage.

Making sure your music is being played at an acceptable level is important, too.  Not only will it save your eardrums but keeping your music at a lower level helps you be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are in a major city.  Some commuters only use one headphone while on a train or walking down the street so they can be more aware of what’s happening around them and the music is more of a background experience.

Technology is a great thing, and can have some amazing benefits if used responsibly; but if you’re not careful, the next piece of hardware you’ll need to buy is a hearing aids.