My toddler has a hearing loss
Whether your toddler’s hearing loss has only just been diagnosed, or they have become deaf in childhood, we’re here for you. In the UK, half of deaf children are born deaf and the other half develop deafness during childhood.
The majority of deaf children have hearing parents who have no previous experience of deafness, so for some families, when they are told their child is deaf or losing their hearing, it can come as a great shock. Some parents may be upset by the news, others may be relieved that their suspicions have finally been confirmed. There is no right or wrong way to feel and it’s important to take the time to adjust, to look after yourself and consider how you are feeling.
“I never thought for a minute that she might be deaf. I felt so guilty that I might have caused it.”
Meeting other families with deaf children can be invaluable and when you feel the time is right, you may want to:
- read about other families’ experiences of having a child with a hearing loss or chat with other families on Facebook or in our Families magazine.
- join a local deaf children's society to meet other families in your area. If you’re unable to attend a local group, you can still join and receive local information and updates
- attend one of our free family weekends or information days.
The ways that your child will cope with their deafness will vary greatly but it’s likely that they will take it all in their stride.
If your child has become deaf quite suddenly, you may find that their behaviour has changed. Their attention span may be shorter, or they may have temper tantrums or become clingy. This may be as a result of any deafness and frustration caused by difficulties communicating, or for others, be related to having been through a serious illness.
If your child has had a hearing loss for a while but it’s only just been diagnosed, they might have been showing these behaviours for a long time.
Other children in the family may also become unsettled if your child is getting a lot of the family’s time and attention so ensure you explore with them what they are feeling too.
Your audiologist will have given you information about your child’s hearing loss. If you are not sure about any of the information you have been given you can go back and ask them to explain.
They can explain the results of your child’s hearing tests and sounds your child can and can’t hear.
They can also tell you where you can get more information about tests to find the cause of your child’s deafness (although it’s important to remember that tests will only be able to identify the cause of deafness in 40–50% of children).
After your child is identified as deaf, they will be regularly seen at their local audiology clinic. Have a look at our section on your child's audiology service for information on what audiology clinics do.
You can also read there about what standards your child's audiology clinic should be working to and what to do if you’re unhappy with the service your child is receiving.
There are a range of services, professionals and groups who can offer you and your child support. On our page about people you may meet we describe the most common services and professionals you may come across.
Teachers of the Deaf are qualified teachers who have undertaken specialist training to teach deaf children. They provide support to deaf children, their families and other professionals involved in a deaf child’s education.
Some Teachers of the Deaf have specialist training to work with very young children. They can be known as pre-school or early years Teachers of the Deaf.
For many families, the Teacher of the Deaf may be the main person responsible for coordinating early years support for the family. For example, they will visit you to support you with any new hearing equipment, different approaches to communicating with your child, and what to expect in the future. How often they visit will depend on you and your child’s needs.
Developing good communication is vital to all children and their families. Every family, and deaf young child, has different communication needs and what works for one will not necessarily work for another. For this reason it can be helpful to gather as much information as possible before making any decisions about communication methods.
Our resource Success from the start: A developmental resource for families of deaf children aged 0-3 was also created to help families of deaf children and those that support them observe, monitor and record the progress their child makes.
Success from the start is designed to help you:
- share your observations of your child
- recognise the importance of what they’re doing now
- support you in asking questions and understanding your child’s development
- be clear about what sorts of things your child may do next
- have ideas as to what you and others can do to help.
There are a number of sources of financial support available for a family with a deaf child, including welfare benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
“We’ve used her DLA to cover the cost of appointments, especially when she was younger and they wanted to test everything.”