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


Historically, research has shown a gap in achievement between deaf children and their hearing peers.  Despite the huge developments in technological and other support available in the early years, this gap can be seen even by the age of five.   However, even within the data reported above there are children who are making appropriate progress and are achieving as well as their hearing peers.  It is important to consider why some children make more appropriate progress than others.

Research across communication approaches has shown achievement of deaf children when given appropriate support:

Manual Communication Approach

In a study of CI-children who had been learning to sign since birth, they performed in English on par with hearing peers24.  Another study shows that children aged 4 to 7 years implanted at age 12 to 24 months and educated through oral-aural combined with signing were capable of achieving 'age appropriate language levels on expressive vocabulary and receptive syntax'25.

Natural Aural Communication Approach

Lewis and Hostler found that school leavers from 6 UK local authorities who were deaf (average hearing loss 96dB) using a Natural Aural approach in the home and mainstream; showed that their GCSE results were good as or better than the National average for hearing children; 48% were reading at levels around or above their actual age; all of them had close friends and were happy.

Auditory Verbal Communication Approach

A study by Hogan (2016)27 found that approximately 80% of children who spend at least two years on an Auditory Verbal programme at Auditory Verbal UK achieve age-appropriate spoken language.  This rose to 97% of deaf children without additional needs. A study by Hitchins and Hogan (2018)28 found that, on average, deaf children with additional needs doubled the rate of their language development whilst on an Auditory Verbal programme, and one in two reached age appropriate spoken language at the end of their programme.  The analysis also showed that the earlier that effective intervention begins, the better the prognosis for language development.  The report found 97% of deaf children without additional needs reached at least age appropriate spoken language at the end of the programme.

Research called Stepping Stones to Literacy by Auditory Verbal UK highlights that deaf children following our specialist early intervention programme are attaining educational outcomes on a par with hearing children. Listening skills are the foundation for learning spoken language and literacy. Effective early intervention for all deaf children can lead to excellent outcomes in literacy

Find out more about Auditory Verbal therapy.

See First Voice international evidence in First Voice Sound Outcomes report.