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

Social skills

Research by Young, Green and Rogers (2008)32 and Peterson, O’Reilly and Wellman (2016)33 has shown that children who have a hearing loss are at greater risk of experiencing social isolation, loneliness and difficulty with peer relationships.  Therefore, it is important that deaf children’s social skills are developed.

Pragmatics is the skill of using language socially and being able to adapt it to different situations.  The NDCS provides information about pragmatics for parents.

Pages 46-48 of the NDCS booklet ‘Supporting the achievement of hearing-impaired children in early years settings’ provides information on supporting social and emotional development.  The booklet has advice for professionals working with deaf children aged 0 to 4 on effective support, deaf friendly teaching and improving outcomes.  This resource is for anyone working with young deaf children.

Children with a hearing loss may not have the ability to overhear conversation that is not directed at them.  Opportunities to hear different perspectives and conversational stories may therefore be limited.  Sharing books is a great way of awakening a child’s imagination, developing their language and engaging them in early play.  It can give them a great start to early literacy and broaden social understanding.

It is also important for deaf children to meet deaf peers, as well as deaf adult role models.  This enables them to understand that they are not alone and that there are others like them.  Many deaf children grow up thinking that they will become hearing when they are adults as they have never met any other deaf adults.  Meeting other deaf peers helps them to develop social skills and a strong sense of identity.  Many places have local NDCS groups and some LA services provide preschool groups for families of deaf children to meet together.

The NDCS also run regular sports, arts and outdoor events for deaf children, young people and their families.  You can find out more on their events page

CICS (Cochlear Implanted Children’s Support group) also arranges social events for the whole family and organises activity weekends.  You can find out more here.