Hearing Disabilities: Signs of Concern

Baby with hearing aid

As a child care provider, you might notice that a child seems to have trouble hearing. The problem may be temporary, or it may continue over time. If you suspect that a child in your child care program is having hearing problems, observe the child over several days. Watch for some of the following signs that may point to difficulties in hearing. Sometimes you may see only a few signs; in other cases, you may see many.

Signs That May Suggest a Hearing Disability

The following are common signs that may suggest a hearing disability. Child care providers should pay attention when a child

  • Does not respond when spoken to
  • Does not startle at loud noises
  • Does not turn toward sounds
  • Does not wake up in response to sounds
  • May respond to very loud sounds, but not to softer normal sounds
  • Coos or gurgles, but does not progress to saying words
  • Does not talk very much, if at all
  • Talks, but is impossible to understand
  • Leaves out many sounds when talking
  • Talks in a monotone
  • Seems unable to follow verbal directions; often says “huh” or “what”
  • Interrupts conversations
  • Seems unaware that others are talking
  • Holds his head so that one ear is turned toward a speaker
  • Is alert and attentive to things that can be seen, but uninterested in those that can only be heard

Be sure to share what you observe with the child’s parents. Refer to the article Tips for Child Care Providers to Communicate Concerns about Children’s Development with Parents for suggestions on how to approach parents with your concerns.

For More Information

 For more information on supporting children with special needs in a child care program, check out the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care section on Child Care for Children with Special Needs, or take a look at the article Adapting the Child Care Environment for Children with Special Needs. To find specific ways to support children with hearing disabilities in the child care environment, see Specific Ideas for Child Care Providers to Help Children with Hearing Disabilities.