Singing Could Be Key to Building Communication Skills for Children with Hearing Impairment

music education for children with hearing loss

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning”  -Plato
The importance of music as part of a well-rounded education has been recognized for centuries. In more recent years, music has also been connected with math and science skills, though this connection is still somewhat debated. Many organizations point out long lists of potential benefits. Language development is often shown as one of those many benefits. Now music’s importance is starting to be seen in a new light thanks to recent research out of Finland. That is, how music positively impacts hearing impaired children from a very young age.
Music and Auditory Skills
While we often think of hearing loss as a concern for older adults, a significant number of children are born with or develop a hearing impairment. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. It is also estimated that in the United States, as of the end of 2012, over 35,000 cochlear implants had been implanted in children.
There is no arguing that hearing loss can severely impact communication skills and language development. This is why experts are looking into ways to support these skills even when children have a hearing impairment.
Research from University of Helsinki, Finland, and University College London, published in Music Perception indicate that the amount of singing and music in a hearing-impaired child’s day may be connected to their auditory skills.
During the study, the team measured factors such as auditory skills, a perception of speech in noise, singing skills and brain responses in children with cochlear implants. The children who took part in the study were either involved in regular singing or other musical activities or not.
The findings indicated that the hearing impaired children who sang regularly had a measurable difference in auditory skills.
“Hearing impaired children with cochlear implants who sing regularly have better perception of speech in noise compared to children who don’t sing. This is an important skill in daycare or school where children discuss and receive instructions in noisy conditions,” University lecturer of logopedics Ritva Torppa, Ph.D., from the University of Helsinki stressed.
What this means for education
The study findings shine a light on just how important music can be in school environments to foster developing communication, especially in early education such as daycare and preschool environments. Children with hearing loss as well as any child can benefit greatly from daily activities involving music.
Torppa also pointed out in the report, “Communication skills and especially the ability to perceive speech in noise have a vital importance in education. All children, but especially children with a hearing impairment, should have the possibility to learn music and especially singing.”
The team hopes to use these findings to develop programs that help hearing-impaired kids and their families bring music into every day to strengthen language and communication development.
If you believe your child has hearing loss, contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation. Early detection and management can make all the difference.

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