Jan 8, 2019 in Health

Development of Individuals with and without Hearing Loss Essay

Hearing loss (deafness) is the decrease of the ability to find and understand sounds. Any organism capable of perceiving a sound can suffer. Sound waves differ by the frequency and amplitude. Hearing loss is caused by a wide range of biological and ecological factors. It can be caused by the diseases of an internal ear of a hearing nerve, an inflammation of a middle ear, or some infectious diseases like meningitis, flu, etc. Sometimes, it can be caused by a trauma or a long impact of strong noise and vibrations. Besides, deafness can be congenital or acquired. The same regularities underlie the mental development of individuals both with and without hearing loss. However, there are some features caused by both primary defect and secondary disorders: a slowed-down mastering of speech, communicative barriers, and the originality of the development of the informative sphere. Individuals with and without hearing loss have different developmental features of cognitive activity and personality. The given essay will discuss the similarities and differences in the development of individuals with and without hearing loss. 


The considerable part of individuals with hearing loss (about 40%) has some remains of acoustical feelings. They can be used in the course of education. In the course of constant practice and exercises with the use of skills, the residual acoustical function of individuals with hearing loss becomes more active. Thus, the improvement of acoustical function occurs not owing to the restoration of anatomical and physiological mechanisms of hearing, but due to the development of skills of the use of already available hearing. Jacobus Donders and Scott Hunter indicate that “historically, deaf individuals were viewed as intellectually inferior; then decades ago as not inferior but as concrete. With appropriate measures, the distribution of intellectual functioning among D/HH individuals is similar to that of hearing individuals, although differences can be found in specific skill areas” (Donders & Hunter, 2010, p. 263).

There are several similarities in the development of individuals with and without hearing loss. Due to the loss of acoustical feelings and perceptions, a special role is played by visual feelings and perceptions of individuals with hearing loss. The visual analyzer of a deaf child becomes the leading one in gaining knowledge of the world around and mastering of the speech. The visual feelings and perceptions of deaf children are developed not worse than those of the hearing children; in some cases, they are even developed better. Deaf children often notice such details and subtleties of the world around which the hearing child does not pay attention to. Moreover, there is the same development of mentality of individuals with and without hearing loss. Another similarity includes the development of conceptual thinking. 

Among the differences in the development of individuals with and without hearing loss, it is possible to indicate the mixing of such colors as blue, red, and orange, is happening among the individuals with hearing loss. Deaf children differentiate the shades of colors better. The drawings of deaf children contain more particular details than the drawings of their hearing contemporaries. However, children with hearing loss have difficulties with the drawings expressing the spatial relations. Individuals with hearing loss have the analytical type of perception, which prevails over the synthetic one. Deaf children can perceive the speech, relying mainly on visual perceptions. Each phoneme of the language has a corresponding articulatory image. Deaf children visually perceive and remember this image. Later, in the course of training, children with hearing loss can distinguish the articulatory images of the whole words (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association [ASLHA], 2014).

The other difference of individuals with and without hearing loss lies in the fact that the hearing individuals use an acoustical control at a mistake or a wrong pronunciation of a sound, and deaf children rely on the kinesthetic feelings received from the movements of the articulatory apparatus. The motor feelings play an important role in mastering of oral speech by children with hearing loss. The motive feelings for children with hearing loss compose the means of self-checking. Tactile feelings (tactile, temperature, and motor) of deaf children of younger age are developed badly. Such children cannot use this remained analyzer. Having received a new subject, they start manipulating it. It is insignificant for the touch process whether to touch the surface only with finger-tips without using the whole surface of a palm, or to use all fingers.

Due to the general exhaustion of an organism closer to a lunch or by the end of the day, the functional condition of the nervous centers of the individuals with hearing loss decreases. The productivity of attention in the individuals with hearing disorders depends on the character of the presented information, such as letters, figures, etc. in a bigger degree than in the individuals with good hearing. The greatest rate of attention development in the deaf people occurs in the teenage period, while it is formed in people without hearing disorders 3-4 years earlier. 

Owing to the violation of normal communication with the hearing world, the assimilation of a social experience by deaf people is considerably complicated. It is another characteristic feature differentiating people with hearing loss from those without it. The extensive informative material, which is got by a hearing individuality spontaneously, naturally, and rather easily, is perceived by people with hearing disorders by means of a special training and serious strong-willed efforts. Thus, unlike their hearing peers, children with hearing disorders hardly memorize the multiplication table that is given in primary schools. They make big efforts to memorize complex numbers, etc.

Inadvertent or involuntary memorizing by individuals with hearing problems does not concede to the hearing contemporaries. Deaf people directly remember the figurative material more successfully than their peers without hearing loss at a visual experience (visual memorizing). The individuals with hearing loss remember objects shown in parts, not entirely, in comparison with the hearing contemporaries, who do this much worse. It is more difficult for deaf people to mentally recreate an image of a figure without a direct perception of the whole figure than to the individuals without hearing problems. At presentation of the whole figure, the memorizing process does not have any big differences from storing if compared to the hearing children.

There are also a few differences in memorizing of the words from the visual sphere. Unlike children without hearing loss, those with hearing disorders lag behind in the memorizing of words, meaning the sound phenomena. At the same time, in contrast to hearing people, the deaf individuals remember fewer words, designating the quality of subjects reproduced by means of the skin analyzer. The individuals with hearing disorders, first of all, acquire the nouns having a direct subject relativity. It is difficult for them to remember verbs and adjectives. The exact memorizing of words in a definite grammatical form represents a great difficulty for the individuals with hearing loss.

The difficulties that the individuals with hearing disorders experience in the process of development of the informative sphere influence the processes of socialization, their social and personal development. Socialization is the process of assimilation of the social experience by individuals and their familiarizing with the public relations. In the course of socialization, a personality gains the qualities necessary for life in society, acquires certain values, and forms behavior. 

The research conducted by Helene Delage and Laurice Tuller (2007) showed the superiority of the hearing individuals in terms of a social development if compared to those with hearing loss. The analysis of behavior of children with a hearing disorder gave the grounds to assume that the results of a social maturity can explain the communicative competence of children. The latter includes the assessment of communication, the level of development of the expressional speech, understanding of the speech, and skills of reading from lips. The comparison of the level of a social maturity of children with hearing loss and the hearing teenagers aged from 10 to 20 showed that the distinctions between them increase with age. One of the reasons of a low level of a social maturity of the individuals with hearing disorders consists in the fact that many of them studied and study at special schools, the stay in which detains the development of independence and responsibility (Delage & Tuller, 2007).

According to the study conducted by Balen et al. (2009), a social development of children with a hearing disorder is influenced by such factors as the nature of interactions between parents and children, especially at the initial stages, in the period of early childhood. The understanding of the hearing disorder in children by parents and the installations arising in this regard limit the relations between a mother and a child and can interfere with the development of communication and speech. The mothers of children with a hearing disorder seek to define the subjects of a conversation and their directions but do not follow the interests of children, sometimes even ignoring them. Besides, these mothers too often give explanations if a child does not understand them, in comparison with the mothers of hearing children (Balen et al., 2009).

There are two types of interconnection between a mother and a child with hearing loss. The first one is ordering and the second one is dialogical. The first type is represented by the situation “teacher – student”, when a mother is initiator of communication; she directs him or her and gives the criteria of assessment of communication and makes an assessment. The second type of interaction – dialogical – is characterized by the other features: both a mother and a child can be the initiators of communication. A mother pays attention not only to the speech, but also to the gestures and vocalizations of a child. The main reason for the prevalence of the ordering type of interactions in the relations of parents and children with hearing disorders is the idea that the parents of hearing children do not think their children should learn to speak. On the contrary, the parents of children with hearing loss emphasize the importance of interaction. They constantly think of it and take the position of teachers in relation to children; their communication is as various as between the hearing parents and the hearing children (Nittrouer, 2008).

Thus, it is possible to conclude that there are both similarities and differences in the development of individuals with and without hearing loss. Thus, among the similarities, it is possible to indicate the fact that the development of mentality of both individuals with and without hearing loss passes through the same stages. Moreover, there is a positive dynamics of development of both individuals with and without hearing loss. Besides, there are also similarities in the conceptual thinking of individuals with and without hearing loss, especially of children. 

However, there are more differences in the development of individuals with and without hearing loss than similarities. There is the difference in the development of the conceptual and operational sides of mentality. The individuals with hearing loss experience difficulties with the establishment of the logical connections and relations to the abstract material, 3-4 years lagging from peers. Moreover, their intellectual operations develop more slowly and are formed into systems later. In the process of the psychological development of individuals with hearing loss, there is a row of specific peculiarities, connected with the difficulties of formation of the interfunctional interactions, which can underlie the direction of the correctional work. 


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