The relationship between language development and behaviour problems in children with hearing loss


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

Jim Stevenson, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK; Email:


Background:  There are well-replicated findings that link poor development on a range of communication skills with increased behavioural problems. This paper examines this relationship in children with hearing loss.

Method:  One hundred and twenty children with hearing loss (67 boys, 53 girls) and 63 hearing children (37 boys, 26 girls) with a mean age of 8 years from eight districts in Southern England were assessed for receptive and expressive language skills. The relationships between these measures and an aggregate of parent- and teacher-reported behaviour problems in the children were investigated.

Results:  Children with hearing loss had higher levels of behaviour problems compared to hearing children. Once the language abilities of children with hearing loss are taken into account, the negative effects of hearing loss on behaviour disappear.

Conclusions:  Behaviour problems are found more commonly in children with hearing loss and the level of behaviour problems is highest amongst those children with hearing loss with the least developed language capabilities.