Support for deaf children aged 0 to 5 years: Guide

Hitchins, A. Lewis, S. Holmans, A. Grover, A. Wakefield, T. Cormier, K. Rowley, K. Macsweeney, M. | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

What is Deafness?

The National Deaf Children’s Society provide two meanings of the word 'deaf'.

Hearing loss can be described by the following classifications:

Status of loss - Temporary or permanent
Type of loss - Conductive, Sensorineural, Mixed, or Auditory Neuropathy
Degree of loss - Mild, Moderate, Severe, or Profound
Timing of loss  - Congenital or Acquired

Temporary hearing loss may be the result of an obstruction in the ear canal or another health-related condition. Causes may include ear infection, excessive ear wax, strenuous exercise, high blood pressure and noise induced hearing loss.  A permanent loss may be a result of numerous aetiologies such as CHARGE syndrome, Connexin 26, Usher Syndrome, Mondini, Prematurity, Anoxia and Meningitis. This list is by no means exhaustive. The aetiology may affect the treatment and prognosis of the hearing loss.

Hearing loss is measured in decibels hearing level (dBHL). This number represents the softest level you can hear. Hearing level can be measured for pure tone sounds, as well as for speech sounds, and can be reported for both ears (bilateral) or for each ear individually (unilateral). In the UK the degree of a child’s hearing loss is described by the better hearing ear and by the descriptors (in section 9 page 22) from the British Society of Audiology (BSA) recommendations.

Within normal limits < 25 dBHL

Mild 25-40 dBHL

Moderate 41-70 dBHL

Severe 71-95 dBHL .

Profound >95 dBHL

Hearing levels are recorded on an audiogram. MEDEL have produced a video which explains the audiogram and the different loudness and frequencies of sounds.

There are various tests available to ascertain the audiogram and level of hearing of babies and children. The NDCS booklet ‘Understanding Your Child’s hearing tests’  gives more details

One challenge of deafness is that it does not always occur in isolation.  It is estimated that between 25 and 40% of deaf children have additional needs with challenges which include for example oro-motor disorders, complex physical needs and cognitive difficulties4,5,6.