Hearing-Speaking: Are they related?

Hearing-Speaking: Are they related?

Hearing-Speaking, We usually get a question of

-How hearing problem from birth plays a critical role in speech and language development, communication and learning?

-When the child cannot hear why cannot he/she speak?

                                                            Listen and learn

To answer these questions we need to know something about the ear development. A child starts hearing to environmental sounds not only from the time he/she is born but also from 18 weeks of gestational age. Research says that fetus as young as 18-19 weeks hears mother’s heartbeat and other louder environmental sounds. Ultrasound studies show that a child can respond to mother’s voice even before birth. It is well documented that a child starts developing auditory skills from the day 1. The primitive startle reflexes to loud sounds is gradually developed into more and more advanced responses like localization, comprehension, understanding etc.


It is well-recognized that the relationship between hearing and speech development is critical in the early years of a child’s life. A typically developing child starts understanding much before speaking which shows that only by listening, understanding the child starts to speak. It works like a feedback system.

Hearing and speaking with a child

When a child has a hearing problem from birth, he/she would miss many of the important milestones. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious the effects on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the problem is identified and intervention begun, the less serious the ultimate impact.

3 reasons why active listening is a must have skill

There are four major ways in which hearing loss affects children:

  • It causes delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language).


Children with impaired hearing struggle to hear soft or quiet speech sounds—for example, “sh” or “f”—and therefore may not use these sounds while communicating. As a result, the child’s speech may be difficult to understand.

Vocabulary & Sentence Structure

When hearing loss exists, children are slower to develop their vocabulary. They may also struggle to comprehend words with multiple meanings, proper use of tenses and sentence structure. Hearing impaired children are more likely to use short, simple sentences to communicate.

  • The language deficit causes learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement.

Hearing impaired kids are more likely to struggle with reading and math than their peers. Without treatment, an early hearing impairment can continue to affect a child throughout their life, as their academic and social development are likely to suffer. However, identifying and addressing a hearing impairment in its early stage can curb the impact. Working with a speech pathologist can help to minimize developmental delays and help your child reach her or his full potential.

communication and learning

  • Communication difficulties often lead to social isolation and poor self-concept.

Children with severe to profound hearing losses often report feeling isolated, without friends, and unhappy in school, particularly when their socialization with other children with hearing loss is limited. These social problems appear to be more frequent in children with a mild or moderate hearing losses than in those with a severe to profound loss.

  • It may have an impact on vocational choices.


What you can do?

Recent research indicates that children identified with a hearing loss who begin services early may be able to develop language on a par with their hearing peers. If a hearing loss is detected in your child, early intervention is recommended to promote language and cognitive development.

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