Effects on Development

    • hearing loss has a developmental effect on:
      • speech
      • language
      • learning
    • hearing loss can have a developmental effect on:
      • social and emotional
      • balance
      • family dynamics
    • however, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and the earlier intervention is started, the greater the chances for development in all areas to be on target


    The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center discusses the effects of various types of hearing loss.

    The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) provides basic information on the developmental effects of hearing loss [Patient information handout][Español] pdf icon  related to:

    • vocabulary
    • sentence structure
    • speaking
    • academic achievement
    • social functioning


    The "Relationship of Hearing Loss to Listening and Learning Needspdf icon describes possible accommodations and services, as well as potential needs for your child's educational program.

    Effects on Speech

    Children with hearing loss might experience…

    • speech that is difficult for others to understand
    • difficulty including the quieter sounds of speech (“s,” “sh,” “f,” “t,” and “k”) when talking because they are more likely to not be able to hear those quieter sounds
    • talking too loudly or too quietly because they can’t hear their own voices
    • talking with a high pitched voice
    • mumbling while talking because they do not pronounce words clearly or at an appropriate speed

    Effects on Language

    Children with hearing loss might experience…

    • slowly developing vocabulary
    • differences in vocabulary that increase with age when compared to hearing children
    • shorter and simpler use of sentences when speaking and writing
    • not understanding or misusing rules for grammar
    • challenges learning to read and write

    Effects on Learning

    Children with hearing loss might experience…

    • challenges in all areas of academic success, especially reading
    • less academic success as compared to hearing children, the differences in success increases with age
    • struggles with learning concepts that are abstract


    Learning can be improved when:

    • Parents are involved
    • Learning support is
      • Started early
      • Matches what the child needs
      • Happens as often as the child needs

    Effects on Social and Emotional

    Children with hearing loss might…

    • Feel isolated, lonely, or without friends, especially if they interact with mostly hearing children
    • Have delays in appropriate social skills because they miss things like knowing when to take turns, how to get someone’s attention, etc.
    • Feel embarrassed or withdrawn if they miss what is going on around them because of the hearing loss, especially when among groups of people
    • Be more likely to be bullied

    Effects on Balance

    The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides an explanation on How Our Balance System Works.

    If a child has a hearing loss that affects the inner ear, he/she might also experience problems with the vestibular system, which controls the body's ability to:

    • balance
    • stay upright when standing
    • know where he/she is in relation to gravity
    • recognize his/her head position
    • move smoothly:
      • up and down
      • left to right
      • tilt from side to side


    The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is the sensory system that that sends signals to the part of the brain that controls our eye movements and the muscles that keep us upright.

    Effects on Family Dynamics

    Hearing loss can have a variety of affects on family dynamics and every family will be faced with making decisions and choices that are unique to their children and circumstances. Families must make these decisions based on what is best for their family.

    It's important to remember that:

    • there is no "right" answer
    • decisions and choices are not final and can be changed
    • what "works" for one family may not "work" for another


    Possible effects on family dynamics:

    • having a member of the family that communicates in a way or language that is different than the majority of the family
    • having to choose a method of communication that works best for your family
    • jealous siblings
    • feeling isolated or cut-off from other family members because of communication issues
    • strong and often changing emotions related to the hearing loss, including: anger, grief, guilt, sadness, resentment, etc.
    • financial concerns related to paying for medical bills, services, or assistive devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, flashing lights, etc.
    • having to change or modify family activities and plans based on the needs associated with the hearing loss