The loss of the ability to hear has a profound impact on a child’s language and behavioral development. Estimates suggest that children with a hearing problem are more prone to behavioral problems than their normal-hearing peers. The challenges of early childhood communication lead to maladaptive interaction with others resulting in behavioral disorders. Why are children with hearing problems more prone to behavioral issues and what are the solutions to the challenge?
Hearing loss treatment for children is better than it has ever been before. Technological improvements along with institutional changes are giving these kids more options for their hearing loss. Despite these advancements, children with hearing loss exhibit more aggression than their peers with normal hearing. Deaf children, in general, have higher rates of aggression, noncompliance, and inattention. Depression and other mental health problems are also high in children with a hearing loss.
Research suggests that problems with language and communication skills are at the root of behavioral issues. Control of language is essential for life management. Those children without this control show an increase in difficulty with impulse control, planning, and regulating behavior. In studies with deaf children who have practical communication skills, the results show improvement in organizing behavior, attention, and impulse control. Furthermore, deaf children who have deaf parents or those with cochlear implants who have developed their language skills show improvement on par with children with normal hearing.
Most children who are deaf have parents with normal hearing. These children often present with language barriers early on because the healthy hearing parents are not skilled at visual communication making it difficult for the child to benefit from an accessible form of communication. Many deaf children have parents who report much stress in their daily lives and often make poor decisions. Deaf children develop an understanding of social interaction later than other kids. Most deaf children now receive education in mainstream schools. However, studies indicate that deaf children may experience neglect by their peers which limits the opportunity for social interaction.
There is positive news to report. Studies indicate that intervention with these children can be useful. Programs can teach these children impulse control and social skills to improve social interaction and behavioral control. These interventions must be a part of the regular school curriculum for these children with language and communication skills being the primary focus. Academic programs where deaf and hearing children learn together are beneficial in promoting inclusion into mainstream educational programs. Interventions that support communication in the family are also critical to the child’s development and behavior.
If your child has a hearing loss and behavioral problems do not fret. Interventions can help. Your child can learn methods for controlling their behavioral impulses as well as improve their social interaction skills. If you are not sure if your child has a hearing loss, please schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional today or check out the Hearing Loss Association of America website for more information and possible assistance.