OCHL Summary for Parents
Preschoolers with Mild to Severe Hearing Loss: Findings and Implications

Main Conclusions Implications for Parents

Many children in the study developed language abilities like their hearing peers. However, the study showed that some preschoolers who are hard of hearing are at risk for delays in speech and language development, even when hearing loss is identified early in life. Children with poorer hearing levels are at greatest risk for delays.

Speech and language delays can be prevented or kept at a minimum.
Early hearing aid (HA) fitting, consistent HA use and consistently talking with your child help prevent delays. Your efforts in these areas will pay off!

HAs provide benefits for children with all degrees of hearing loss (even mild), especially when they are fit carefully and well. When HAs were fit so that speech could be heard well (audibility), language growth was strong.

Well fit HAs (with good audibility) benefit language for all children who are hard of hearing! Ask your audiologist to use methods that result in the best aided hearing.
Listen to your child’s HAs daily.

The best early language development was seen in children who got HAs before 6 months of age. Children fit later showed positive language growth once aided, drawing closer to peers by 6 years of age.

Ask your child’s audiologist about aided audibility.
Aided audibility should be checked regularly (after hearing evaluations and earmold fittings).

The best early language development was seen in children who got HAs before 6 months of age. Children fit later showed positive language growth once aided, drawing closer to peers by 6 years of age.

Provide HAs as soon as possible once hearing loss is confirmed.
Recognize that early fitting is best, but later-identified children still benefit from HAs.

Wearing HAs as much as possible has direct benefit for language and listening development. Strong language growth was seen in children wearing HAs for 10+ hours daily. Not all toddlers wear their HAs. Children typically become better at wearing HAs as they get older.

Ask your audiologist to share results of HA data logging, which checks how much your child’s HAs are worn.
Ask your audiologist, educators, and other parents for help in overcoming barriers to HA use and achieving consistent daily use.

Parents who regularly involve their children in conversations have children with stronger language. Directing the child (come here, sit down) is less effective than sharing ideas.

Team with your educators to provide rich language exposure at home.
Describe and chat more than you “direct.”

Children’s growing language abilities along with benefit from HAs promoted changes in functional auditory skills (like hearing speech in noise).

Language and listening go hand in hand. Providing well-fit HAs benefits both language and listening development.

The dog barks loudly.

Some preschoolers who are hard of hearing struggle the most with developing certain speech sounds and word endings, especially those that are hard to hear (like the s in barks).

Know that your child may need more practice to develop certain speech and language skills, especially those that are hard to hear.

Audibility

Hearing aid use

Quality of talk

Three factors benefit children’s language development:

  1. the boost they get from the HAs so they can hear speech (audibility),
  2. their consistency of HA use, and
  3. the talk they hear from adults

Provide your child strong language experience by focusing on these key factors.
Rely on professionals and other parents for support on your journey with your child.