Early support for deaf children aged 0 to 5 years

  • Hitchins, A.
  • Lewis, S.
  • Holmans, A.
  • Grover, A.
  • Wakefield, T.
  • Cormier, K.
  • Rowley, K.
  • Macsweeney, M.


Abstract / Introduction

One to two of every 1,000 children born in the UK has a hearing loss and around half of these children will be severely to profoundly deaf1.  Around 92% of deaf children are born to hearing parents2.  By age three and a half, the human brain has completed 85% of its growth, making the first three years of life critical for optimal development3.  Throughout the literature the importance of early, effective intervention is stressed repeatedly.

For parents of deaf babies and children there are various approaches to communication and development that they may choose for their child.  The weight of this decision for families can be heavy.  Therefore, it is best practice for health and education professionals to enable parents to make an informed choice about which approach they would like their child to follow.  This MESHGuide should be used in conjunction with other MESHGuides on specific approaches to communication which are currently being developed, to enable the reader to explore these in more depth

This guide is intended to provide a summary of the available support for deaf children and their families to inform health professionals and families alike.  It presents an overview of recent domestic and international research and aims to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by deaf children and their families.  This MESHGuide has been designed by practising and retired Educational Audiologists, Teachers of the Deaf and Researchers.  They have a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with families and deaf children in the early years after diagnosis.

This MESHGUIDE uses the word ‘deaf’ to refer to all levels of hearing loss

Strength of Evidence

We have provided evidence for the information collated above with a full reference list including research published in peer reviewed journals.

Transferability across countries and settings

The collected information and advice is intended to promote effective early intervention for deaf children whatever their chosen communication approach.

Date of publication
8 Jan 2019
Date of revision
8 Jan 2021
Online community link

There are various online forums for Teachers of the Deaf and parents of deaf children, in the UK and other parts of the world.  BATOD manages an email forum.

You are welcome to join the online community here https://khub.net/group/open-door-teachers-of-the-deaf to keep in touch.

To keep in touch with other developments, please register to join the MESHConnect general online community. https://khub.net/group/connect-ed