Unilateral Hearing Loss: What are the Consequences for Children?
Written by Élise Lévesque
Unilateral hearing loss affects children as well as adults. This type of hearing loss can be present at birth or acquired with years. Sometimes, there is a medical condition underlying, but frequently the cause is unknown.
Because one ear is still functional, this type of hearing loss often goes undetected for many years, even by the most alert parents. Indeed, parents don’t suspect hearing loss because they’ve seen them react to low sounds. Oftentimes, the impairment is only detected when the child is old enough to identify by himself that he can’t hear from one ear.
Major impact on school career
Unilateral hearing loss comes with a multitude of everyday difficulties: understanding speech, dissociating speech and background noise, localizing sounds, etc. These difficulties have important consequences on the child’s life, and notably in the school career. Hence, children with single-sided deafness have more academic difficulties than their normal-hearing peers.
Language development is more difficult for children with unilateral hearing loss than for normal hearing children.
These children need more help at school and are more at risk to repeat a grade. Unilateral deaf children can also have more difficulties to stay attentive, and it can sometimes result in behaviour issues.
Why these difficulties?
As mentioned earlier, this type of hearing loss is generally detected lately. When children can’t understand what’s being said when everybody else can, or when they get reprimanded for not doing something they didn’t hear well, they may become frustrated, discouraged or anxious.
What to Do if Your Child Has Unilateral Hearing Loss
If you know or suspect your child has a unilateral hearing loss, the next step is to consult an audiologist to have their hearing tested. If a hearing impairment is detected, the audiologist will create a customized intervention. Know that there are some solutions for unilateral hearing loss.