What is it about?

Does hearing experience influence young children’s fundamental behavior (i.e., their temperament) and not just their responses to sound? To answer this, we asked parents of 1.5- to 3-year-olds who were either deaf/hard-of-hearing or typically hearing to fill out the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire (ECBQ). Deaf/hard-of-hearing children were reported to have higher surgency (i.e., how much happiness toddlers display during highly stimulating activities such as rough and rowdy games) but lower effortful control (how much self-control toddlers display when changes in their environment occur) than their typically hearing peers. However, further analyses revealed that these findings were not so clear cut. Some of the questions on the ECBQ are very dependent on hearing (e.g., Listens to quiet sounds, Enjoys the sound of words, Bothered by sounds). When those questions are removed, deaf/hard-of-hearing children differ only in surgency. Also, we found that age and communication strategies (spoken language, sign language, or both) influenced temperament.

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Why is it important?

Our work reveals for the first time that hearing experience impacts children’s basic behavior starting at an earlier age than what has been found in previous work and thus emphasizes the importance of taking a whole-child approach to fostering development in children who are deaf/hard-of-hearing.


Doing this work has helped us appreciate that the ear is connected to the brain – and behavior.

Irina Castellanos
Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Temperament in Toddlers With and Without Prelingual Hearing Loss, Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, November 2023, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2023_jslhr-23-00182.
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