Although all children desire to make friends and fit in with their peers, those with hearing loss may have a more difficult time doing so. This is because untreated hearing loss is associated with difficulty perceiving others’ emotions. When your child can’t sense how others are feeling, it can compromise their communication skills when playing with other kids at Tot Lot Park in Kirkland.
Fortunately, the use of hearing aids can help children notice emotions in others better. We review what the research shows on this topic below.
What the Research Shows
A 2021 study published in the journal Ear and Hearing called, “Hearing Status Affects Children’s Emotion Understanding in Dynamic Social Situations: An Eye-Tracking Study,” aimed to uncover the effect of early-onset hearing loss on children’s emotional understanding.
The researchers examined how children encode and interpret nonverbal emotional cues in dynamic social situations. To do this, they fit children with hearing loss with Oticon hearing aids that offer MoreSound IntelligenceTM before testing the children’s voice emotion recognition for anger, happiness, sadness and fear.
The research team found that the children who wore hearing aids were able to more accurately recognize the emotional nuances of spoken language without using facial expressions. In fact, these children had a similar performance as their age-matched peers who have normal hearing; those with hearing loss had a 94% recognition level compared to 98% for the children without hearing loss.
According to the study authors, “The findings suggest that children with limited auditory access to the social environment tend to collect visually observable information to compensate for ambiguous emotional cues in social situations. These children may have developed this strategy to support their daily communication. Yet, to fully benefit from such a strategy, these children may need extra support for gaining better social-emotional knowledge.”
What This Means for Your Child
What this study shows is that hearing aids can help your child be more attuned to the emotions of others. This will enable them to respond more empathetically and improve their relationships with their peers so they can build healthy friendships.
For more information about hearing aids for your child or to schedule an appointment with a pediatric audiologist, call Evergreen Speech and Hearing Clinic today.