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Does my child have a hearing loss?

Mild, progressive or temporary deafness may be difficult to identify as children often adapt extremely well, for example, by learning to lip-read. However, any hearing loss, even if it’s temporary or mild, can have a big impact, particularly in the early years when children are developing their speech and language skills.

Glue ear, although usually temporary, affects a child’s ability to hear. Temporary hearing loss can easily be mistaken for stubbornness or being naughty.

Look out for the following signs which may indicate glue ear, mild or progressive deafness.

  • Changes in behaviour for example becoming withdrawn or frustrated.
  • Red ears in babies and/or pulling at their ears.
  • Delayed speech and communication development.
  • Mishearing and mispronouncing words.
  • Not hearing what's going on if there's background noise.
  • Not responding when called.
  • Problems with concentrating, tiredness and frustration that affects their behaviour.
  • Difficulties with reading and learning.
  • Wanting the volume of the TV higher than other members of your family.

What to do if you're concerned about your child's hearing

If you're concerned about your child's hearing, talk to your doctor or health visitor about your child seeing an audiologist. Depending on where you live, you may be able to self-refer to an audiologist, meaning you can ask for an appointment without going through your doctor. The audiologist should carry out a hearing test to confirm whether your child has a hearing problem, and what the options are for managing it. 

If your child has a learning disability, autism or both you can download a booklet about hearing care and hearing tests.

If you have just been told that your baby, toddler or child has a hearing loss, the news may be a shock. The majority of deaf children are born to hearing parents who have no previous experience of deafness. We are here to help. One of the ways we can help is with our information about first diagnosis.