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Hearing Loss : Effects On Children Development

Question 1: Is hearing important for children?

Yes. Children acquire language, talk, learn, play and built social skills through listening.

Question 2: Does hearing loss have a negative impact on a child’s development?

Yes. Three main effects of hearing loss are:

  • Delay in language acquisition
  • Learning difficulties
  • Difficulty socializing

Effect 1: Delay in language acquisition

Vocabulary size limited and not at par with their chronological age Concrete words are easier to understand than abstract words
  • Concrete words: chicken, sleep, ball
  • Abstract words: lazy, happy, concentrated
Difficulty understanding words that have multiple meaning.


  1. A toy
  2. A formal event
Uses short and simple sentences Understand and use sentences that are short and simple. Active sentence:
Daddy’s shirt
I eat rice
Difficulty in understanding and writing long sentences Passive sentence:
The cat is hurt because the boy threw a stone at it.
Difficulty understanding speech Their speech is difficult to be understood by strangers (non family members) Speech is not clear, imprecise articulation or articulation errors
Not able to hear sounds like /s/, /sh/, /t/, /f/, and /k/.
These sounds that are not heard will be omitted and sounds that have not been mastered will be substituted with another sound.
Sikat becomes ‘iyat’
Unable to hear own voice when they speak because of the hearing loss Unsure if own pronunciation is correct. Speaks too loudly or softly, monotonous and rapid rate of speech

Effect 2: Learning Difficulties

  • Poor academic performance especially when it involves reading, writing and counting
  • Limited hearing ability causes child to be inattentive because he/she does not understand what the teacher is saying.

Effect 3: Difficulty Socializing

Children with profound hearing loss have been reported to have difficulty making friends, are isolated and are alone in school. However, there are also children who are active, labeled as naughty, unable obey instructions and does not do school work. They frequently break school rules and discipline.

These situations happen because they do not fully understand verbal instructions that have been given because of the hearing loss.

Question 3: What is my role as a parent?

Parents or guardians are the first individuals who are able to detect if there is a problem in their child’s development. Parents or guardians have to observe their child’s development when the child is young which begins at infancy up till school age. Parents have to be alert if their child does not respond when his/ her name is being called. It may be a sign that the child has a hearing difficulty.

Question 4: How do I detect hearing loss in my child?

Parents can use Infant Development Checklist and Preschool Development Checklist as a guide to detect if there is a hearing difficulty when they are young.

Infant Development Checklist

If most of your answers are NO, please see a medical practitioner for further evaluation.

Age Observation (Yes/ No)
From birth to 4 months old

  • Infant startle at loud sounds
  • Infant is calm when voice is at speaking volume
  • Infant gives reaction towards voice (example: smile or responds with voice/ sound)
4 to 9 months

  • Infant turns to source of sound
  • Infant responds with a smile or vocalizations when interacting with him/her
  • Shows interest in sound-generating toys
  • Uses different cries for different meaning
9 months to 15 months

  • Uses different sounds
  • Responds to own name when called
  • Gives different responses to changes in tone of voice (when adult is happy or angry)
  • Understands simple instructions
  • Imitates sounds/ simple words when produced by adult
  • Uses voice to get attention from you
  • Produces speech such as bye bye, mama
15 to 24 months

  • Points to direction of object when named
  • Enjoys listening to stories and songs
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Produces words related to daily activity (example: want, water, mam-mam, mama)
  • Points to body parts when named
  • Names familiar objects
  • Begins combining two or more words to form a sentence

Preschool Development Checklist

If most of your answers are YES, please see a medical practitioner for further evaluation

No. Does your child frequently… Yes/ No
1. Increase volume of the television louder than what the family is used to?  
2. Gives inappropriate answers to questions?  
3. Ignore you when you call his/ her name?  
4. Have difficulty understanding speech or instructions?  
5. Have articulation errors or imprecise speech?  
6. Have difficulty learning?  
7. Complains of pain in the ear or related to the ear?  
8. Have difficulty understanding other people’s speech?  
9. Speak differently compared to other children of the similar age group?  
10. Request that you speak louder when talking to him/ her?  
11. Delayed in speech compared to other children of the similar age group?  

Question 5: What do I do if my child has signs of hearing loss?

Take immediate action by contacting an ENT Specialist and an Audiologist in the nearest hospital.

If hearing loss has been detected early, a child will be able to get early intervention and management for speech and language skills. With early intervention, the child may acquire language skills, social skills and academic performance at par to his/ her peers.


  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.) Effects of Hearing Loss in Development. Retrieved August 30, 2012, from http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/disorders/effects.htm
  2. Neil, B. (2006). New to Hearing Loss? Here’s the Help You Need!. Retrieved September 17, 2012, http://www.hearinglosshelp.com/articles/resources.htm
  3. Cochlear.com. (n.d.) My child has hearing loss. Retrieved August 30, 2012, from http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/au/home/understand/my-child-has-hl/
  4. CHE ISMAIL BIN CHE LAH (2008) Tesis Kajian Masalah Pendengaran dan Saringan Mutasi A1555g Gen DNA Mitokondria (mtDNA)  di Kalangan Kanak-Kanak  Bermasalah Pendengaran  Jenis Sensorineural Tidak Bersindromik  di Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia. Retrieved August 30, 2012, from http://eprints.usm.my/9960/1/KAJIAN_MASALAH_PENDENGARAN.pdf
  5. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.) How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?. Retrieved August 30, 2012, from    http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart.htm
Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer : Norhafillah bt. Abdul Rahman
Translator : Angela Yew Wei Ching
Accreditor : Fairus bt. Mukhtar
Reviewer : Nadwah bt. Onwi