Signs of Hearing Loss in Children | Discovering Deafness

Published on: 7th February 2024

Did you know that 1 to 2 in every 1000 babies are born with profound hearing loss in Australia every year? And over 90% of babies born with a permanent or temporary hearing loss are born to hearing parents – so you’re not alone in your questions.  

If you’re wondering what exactly the signs of hearing loss look like, read on!  

What are the causes of hearing loss? 


Temporary hearing loss may be caused by an infection like a cold or otitis media, which infects the middle ear, excess mucus in the Eustachian tube, or something blocking the ear canal.

Permanent hearing loss can be genetic; caused by conditions such as osteogenesis imperfecta; or caused by hereditary conditions, exposure to diseases such as rubella during pregnancy, particular diseases such as meningitis, head injuries and loud noises.  

What are the signs of hearing loss?  

Hearing loss may show up differently from babies to older children when they are at certain milestones. Your child may be showing signs of hearing loss if they: 

In early years (as babies): 

  • Do not respond when called 
  • Are unable to hear faint sounds  
  • Do not react to loud sounds or are unsure of where they are coming from 
  • Do not maintain eye contact and respond differently to different people 
  • Struggle to understand when someone is speaking to them, particularly when there is background noise 

As toddlers and children:  

  • Are inattentive and tend to daydream, appearing to be ‘in their own world’ 
  • Speak quite loudly 
  • Delayed speech and language development compared to hearing friends or family members  
  • Watch television with the volume turned up too high  
  • Have difficulty hearing when on the phone  
  • Are tired after a day of interacting with others at kindergarten, daycare or school 
  • Often need you to repeat yourself  
  • Have behavioural problems with teachers or fellow students or with parents at home 
  • Have issues with grades and performance at school  

How is it diagnosed? 

Hearing loss in children can be present at birth (congenital) or developed later in life (acquired). Hearing loss is diagnosed through a hearing test, screening or audiometry exam with an audiologist, where moderate to profound hearing loss is identified under 40 decibels. 

After a Diagnosis: Where to get help 

After a diagnosis, you’ll most likely have a lot of questions. Your doctor, GP or audiologist will be able to provide resources and recommendations of local providers that you can contact for next steps for your child with hearing loss / deafness. If you’re wanting to give your child access to other options for early intervention, including a with a total communication approach involving Auslan, visual communication, listening and spoken language, multimodal and the use of technology, reach out to our team.  

Our Therapy and Family Services provide parents with the tools for early access to language to avoid speech delay. We offer early intervention programs, allied health services like speech pathology, Deaf and parent mentors, specialist assistance from a Teacher of the Deaf and play and community groups in certain states. We can help connect parents to appropriate supports through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). 

How parents can support their children’s language development   

Regardless of the choices of treatment, parents can support their children’s language development and avoid speech delay by giving them early exposure to every communication option available to them. Rather than a case of “either, or”, (“Sign or Speech”) giving your child access to Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and visual communication, as well as written and spoken English, is important for them to reach their full potential and be able to choose their language preferences later in life.  


Benefits of a bilingual approach to early intervention  


Deaf Connect believe in the power of bilingualism, as it is proven that – 

when children simultaneously learn sign language and oral/aural interventions, they have better educational outcomes than deaf children using only spoken language.

– Per Capita Report Summary (Deaf Australia & Deaf Connect, 2022)

Using sign language has been positively associated with children’s emotional development, and their ability to engage and relate to others. A bilingual, holistic approach to language in early years helps to provide better outcomes for communication in the home and empowered sense of identity in Deaf culture and community.  


Support for families of deaf children at Deaf Connect

The birth of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing can be an overwhelming and isolating experience for parents and families, which is why all our early intervention, therapy, support and mentorship programs are tailored to the individual experience of each family, including their communication, education and technology needs.

We work with families everyday to:

  • Help them understand what it means to have a baby with hearing loss
  • Connect them with families who have already been through the experience
  • Advise them how to “navigate the system” to get the best advice and services for their child
  • Connect them to appropriate supports and services, including through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

What to know more about our Allied Health Services and Support Programs? Click here to learn more or get in touch with our team by emailing [email protected] 

What parents have to say:  

Sara arrived in Australia from Sudan when her son was identified as being deaf. Two years later, her daughter was also identified as deaf. Receiving support from our Therapy and Family Service team after their diagnosis, she immediately felt at home and was guided through a holistic approach to communication.  

The support I received through Deaf Connect was not only for my children, but the whole family. I had so many questions about my kids and their future. Deaf Connect guided me through all of it.

– Sara, Therapy and Family Services parent/client 



For More Information:

Found this information helpful? View the full Discovering Deafness: Resources for Parents Playlist here. 

For a breakdown of the key terms used in this article, i.e. “hearing loss” and to learn more about empowering language surrounding deafness, such as ‘discovery’ over ‘diagnosis’, click here.

Please note that the information presented in our resources for parents is not intended to replace professional advice from qualified experts.  



Deaf Australia, Deaf Connect, & Per Capita. (2022). Exploring the Benefits of Auslan in Early Intervention Approaches for Deaf Children.

Additional resources: 


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