Pediatric Language Delay
If your child is deaf or hard of hearing, it means he or she does not process sound the same way a person with typical hearing does. This difference can range from not being able to hear a few sounds to not hearing any sounds at all. Children with these changes in hearing status may be more likely to exhibit language delays, but there are early intervention services available to build their communication and language skills using their best abilities.
The delays these children experience are different from those children with structural (cleft palate), neurological, or developmental conditions may face. Being deaf or hard of hearing itself does not cause language delay: it is language deprivation that causes the delayed development of expressive language. Language deprivation means a child cannot acquire language skills because he or she is not exposed to appropriate linguistic input.
Our Family-Focused Center (FFC) for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children encourages families to pursue multiple opportunities for language development, which can include spoken language, sign language, and tactile communication. Learn more about hearing and talking milestones.
The period between birth and age 4 is a critical time for children to acquire language and cognition skills. During this period, some deaf and hard of hearing children are deprived of processes that promote healthy language development. However, the majority of these children are capable of high levels of language organization if they receive adequate language input.
Based on each child’s unique hearing status, individual strengths, and family goals, our Family-Focused Center (FFC) for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children helps families learn about multiple opportunities for language access, including signed or visual language education (such as American Sign Language), the use of amplification technologies such as hearing aids or cochlear implants for spoken language acquisition, and more.
How are language delays in children who are deaf or hard of hearing different than language delays in other children?
Unlike language delays experienced by children with structural (cleft palate), neurological, or developmental conditions, the condition of being deaf or hard of hearing itself does not cause language delay. Language deprivation, in which a child is not exposed to appropriate linguistic input, causes the delayed development of expressive language. Giving these children early access to language, through signed or visual language education and/or the use of amplification technologies, can often prevent the delay.
Which approach will best address my child’s language delay?
At the Family-Focused Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, we support children and families pursuing one or more approaches, including spoken language, sign language, and tactile communication. The effectiveness of each depends on your child’s unique hearing status, individual strengths, and your family’s goals.
- Hands and Voices
- American Society for Deaf Children
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Parent’s Guide to Hearing Loss – CDC
- National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM)
- National Association of the Deaf
- Hearing Loss Association of America
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Parent Manual
- Deaf Culture
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Early Intervention