700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Hearing Loss: How It Can Affect a Family's Mental Health

May 02, 2023
checking for hearing loss

Hearing loss occurs when a person cannot access sounds within the normal hearing range in both ears. The degree or severity of the hearing loss can vary from person to person depending on the cause.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), roughly 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears, and more than 90 percent of deaf children are born to normal hearing parents. This can result in additional challenges for not only the child but also their family members as they navigate this new diagnosis. It is important for family members to learn how to best communicate and support their child with hearing loss, as well as support each other, through this journey.

Hearing Loss and Mental Health

Children and teenagers with hearing loss are at a greater risk for mental health disorders compared to their normal hearing peers. These disorders can present in many ways including communication delays, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, social isolation, and depression, to name a few.

As children grow and develop, they can feel isolated, struggle with schoolwork, have difficulty keeping up with conversations, and even discontinue use of their hearing aids or cochlear implants. Pediatric audiologists work to help children with hearing loss become self-advocates, enabling them to manage their own hearing loss in difficult listening situations they may experience daily. They should feel comfortable reaching out to their educators, their audiologist, and most importantly, their family members for support. It is important to help each child and family member identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as feel encouraged to explore who they are and pursue their passions.

Hearing Loss and The Family

A diagnosis of hearing loss in a child can be scary to a parent. Accepting your child’s hearing loss and understanding the next steps are equally important but can feel very overwhelming at first.

It is strongly recommended that parents find a support system to help them work through their emotions and feelings of having a child with hearing loss. It is also encouraged to talk with the child’s audiologist or school specialists for additional resources. Parents should determine whether certain behaviors at home or at school are a part of their child’s personality or a response to distress caused by hearing loss struggles. Including the entire family in a mental health or behavior program allows for support of the child with hearing loss, as well to the parents. When parents have the opportunity to share their concerns and struggles, they can find better solutions to helping their child’s hearing or mental health needs, as well as their own.

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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Krista Winner, AuD, CCC-A

Krista Winner, AuD, CCC-A, is a clinical audiologist for the Audiology Department at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She practices full-time at Nationwide Children’s performing diagnostic hearing evaluations, Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing, hearing aid evaluations/ fittings, and cochlear implants.

Sarabeth Mills-Wolf
Sarabeth Mills-Wolf, AuD

Sarabeth Mills-Wolf, AuD, received her Bachelor of Science and Doctorate of Audiology degrees from Western Michigan University and joined Nationwide Children's Hospital as a Pediatric Audiologist in 2022. Sarabeth is passionate about providing excellent individualized family-centered care to all patients and being part of interdisciplinary care. Her clinical interests include diagnostic evaluations, electrophysiology, and amplification.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.