This study examined the psychosocial, adaptive behavior, and language outcomes of young children who are hard of hearing (HH) without additional disabilities or neurocognitive impairments. Relations between early developmental outcomes and child and parent demographic variables, and parenting stress and self-efficacy were also explored.
Participants were 39 children with early identified, permanent mild to severe hearing loss, between the ages of 2 and 3 years, and a comparison group of 47 children with normal hearing (NH). Developmental outcomes were measured using clinician-administered standardized tests and parent-completed behavior rating instruments specific to language, psychosocial functioning, and adaptive behavior. Mothers completed self-report measures that assess parenting stress and maternal self-efficacy.
The children who are HH were similar to the children with NH in terms of their psychosocial functioning and adaptive behavior, with the exception of their socialization skills. As a group, the children who are HH performed significantly worse than their peers with NH on all measures of language ability. Among the children who are HH, maternal self-efficacy showed a strong positive correlation with adaptive behavior outcomes; however, it failed to contribute unique variance above that explained by language ability and gender. Maternal self-efficacy was also significantly correlated with better psychosocial outcomes, but only parenting stress proved to be a significant predictor of child behavioral problems once other variables considered were in the model.
Early-identified young children who are HH can demonstrate age-appropriate development in multiple domains, including language, psychosocial, and adaptive behavior. However, mild to severe hearing loss places young children with no additional disabilities or neurocognitive impairments at risk for language delays. Although the children who are HH demonstrated no more emotional or behavioral problems than their same-age peers with NH, results suggest that language delays increase their vulnerability for delays in various aspects of social competence.