How Hearing Affects Your Child’s Speech And Language Development

If you are concerned about your child’s articulation (the way he produces his speech sounds) and are considering a speech and boy hearinglanguage evaluation, a hearing evaluation may be helpful as well!

“But I am concerned with my child’s speech, not his ability to hear” – you say? Consider this: if you weren’t able to hear people speaking, how precisely would you be able to imitate their speech? Not very easily! Continue reading to discover just how important and informative a hearing evaluation can be.

Q: What does an initial hearing evaluation consist of?

A: Typically, an audiologist will conduct the following screening measures:

Pure Tone Audiometry Test: This consists of your child wearing headphones and responding (usually by raising his hand) to tones in each ear at different frequencies (pitch) and intensities (loudness). This test identifies the various pitches and loudness levels your child can hear.

Speech Reception Threshold: The audiologist will read two-syllable words pronounced with equal stress on each part, like “hotdog” and ask your child to repeat them. This test checks your child’s ability to understand speech sounds in each ear.

Speech Discrimination Testing: The audiologist will read single-syllable words, like “ball” and ask your child to repeat them. The purpose of this assessment is to determine the percentage of words your child can hear.

Q: Why is a hearing evaluation so important?

A: A hearing evaluation can help to determine if a hearing loss is present.

A: If a hearing loss is present, the evaluation can be the first step to correcting the hearing loss (hearing aids, cochlear implant, amplifier systems for your child’s classroom, etc).

A: A hearing evaluation may help explain why your child’s speech production skills are lower than what is expected for a child his age. For instance, certain speech sounds are heard at different pitch levels or at different volumes. This means, if your child has a hearing loss in a specific area, he wouldn’t be expected to accurately produce the corresponding sounds!

  • Even with a mild hearing loss, many speech sounds (z, v, p, h, g, ch, sh, k) may be affected!

A: A hearing evaluation can even help identify disorders of the ear. For instance, the evaluation can help identify external otitis (more commonly known as “swimmer’s ear”)!

A: A hearing disorder can affect your child in the classroom. Results from an evaluation may help to adjust your child’s school day to optimize his performance (e.g. changing his desk position in the classroom, using an FM system, giving the teacher a small microphone, etc).

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5 replies
  1. Angela Chappelle
    Angela Chappelle says:

    I’m so wondering if my child’s speech will develop properly if constantly around 2 other children that have the same difficulties with speaking. I believe those other children may have hearing problems but they attend the same daycare as my developing child. Will this speech impediment be picked up by my child?

    • Julie Paskar
      Julie Paskar says:

      Hi Angela,

      Language development is a multi-faceted experience. There are many factors that contribute to how and when a child develops their language skills including factors that are both developmental and environmental. Your child is in the daycare environment for part of his/her day and these other language models are a limited part of the communication experience. Your child is exposed to typical language from other peers in the daycare setting as well as typical language/speech at home and with other family members. Subsequently, the likeliness that your child’s development will be negatively impacted is minimal. You should continue to seek out a variety of social opportunities for your child to be in different environments such as play dates with peers, library groups, park district groups, etc. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s speech and language development you should see out a comprehensive speech and language assessment.

  2. Debbie H.
    Debbie H. says:

    My daughter is almost 11, in 5th grade and has been receiving speech therapy in school since kindergarten. She seems to be getting worse, however, she doesn’t seem to have any hearing problems. I’m thinking I should have her seen for a hearing evaluation after reading this article. Would it be an ENT? Do you think this is the right step? Her teacher admitted that she can’t understand her, and my daughter hates school now.

    • Lauren Kastan
      Lauren Kastan says:

      Hi Debbie,

      It is always recommended that a child have an up to date audiological evaluation to rule out any difficulties with the ability to hear the various sounds she is producing. This is something you can do through an audiologist.

      Regarding her sound production, I would recommend touching base with your daughter’s school speech language pathologist and express concern that she is having a hard time being understood and it is affecting her within the classroom. See he or she can set up a home program and give you materials to practice with your daughter throughout the week. If your concerns persist, you can look into receiving a speech and language evaluation in a clinical setting to receive further recommendations and next steps, as well as to supplement the services she is receiving at school.


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