Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from W.T., England

Is it essential to address hearing loss before a child reaches the age of seven years?

Question from W.T., England. Posted March 8, 2011.
Response from Marc Marschark - NTID

Absolutely!! The ideal age for addressing hearing loss (effective parenting techniques, effective exposure to language, consideration of assistive listening devices, etc.) is from birth. Recent research has demonstrated that when deaf children are identified and receive early intervention services within the first six months of life, their language abilities are much more likely to fall within the normal range for hearing children by the time they enter school. Strategies for ensuring effective access to language, supporting social-emotional development, and all of the other issues noted above are essential as early as possible in order to ensure normal development…and providing them after the age at which hearing children are starting to aquire language definitely is not “normal.”

All of that said, “better late than never.” If those early opportunities have been missed, the situation calls for even more vigorous, concerted efforts by all involved.