What Lies Ahead for Children with Hearing Loss?

Dr Anne-Marie Tharpe

Despite the best efforts of all stakeholders, many children with hearing loss maintain deficits in the areas of speech perception and psychoeducational development relative to their normal hearing peers. A possible contributor to those deficits could be the recent findings that “full-time” hearing technology use for children in the United States is approximately 8 to 10 hours per day.  This time period offers considerably less access to sound than that received by children with normal hearing who can hear 24 hours a day, even during sleep. It is possible that depriving children with hearing loss of sound for most of their day could contribute to their apparent deficits in areas of speech perception and psychoeducational abilities. Furthermore, the clarity of speech received by children with hearing loss is dis-proportionally degraded as compared to speech heard by children with normal hearing.

This presentation will provide emerging evidence of the importance of children having access to sound throughout the night while they are sleeping. Furthermore, expanding the use of remote microphone use from school to home settings will be discussed. Although these data are preliminary, they should provide some thought for future technology changes and uses.


Dr. Anne Marie Tharpe is Professor and Chair, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville Tennessee. The primary research emphasis in her laboratory has been in furthering our understanding of the developmental impact of hearing loss on young children. This work has been done by examining questions of behavioral indices of attention, environmental exploration, and academic outcomes. More recently, work has focused on the impact of hearing technology interventions and the sleep patterns in those with hearing loss. Dr. Tharpe has published extensively in national and international professional journals, has published numerous books and book chapters, and has presented to over 250 audiences around the world on pediatric audiology issues. She is co-editor with Dr. Richard Seewald of The Comprehensive Handbook of Pediatric Audiology, 2nd edition, which was published in 2016.

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