“Wanna Play?”
Social skill development in
children with a hearing loss

by: Carol L. Nemastil

Purpose: The purpose of this portfolio is to provide information in the area of socialization of children who are deaf or hard of hearing for use by parents, early interventionists, and early childhood educators.  The ability to establish appropriate and effective relationships with one’s peers, both hearing and hearing impaired,  constitutes a critical developmental milestone for children during the preschool years, one that has important implications for children’s cognitive, communicative, and overall social development. (Guralnick, 1980).  Play possesses cognitive, social, and communicative qualities which are important, if not essential, for normal development (Higginbotham and Baker, 1981).

Format: the following web site is organized through the development of 7 questions and answers regarding social skill development.  Each question has been researched and the following information is provided: resources, summary of findings, insights, and additional references that may be of value to teachers and parents.


1. What is socialization and why is it so important in early childhood?
2. What social skills are important for social development?
3. Is the development of play significantly different for the hearing impaired child?
4. Does language development get in the way of social skill development and play?
5. Is there a difference in integrated vs. segregated settings?
6. What’s a mother (or father) to do?
7. What can teachers do in the classroom to facilitate social skill development?

Developmental Milestones:
Normal play developmental milestones are noted here as a means of comparison.  This reference is offered as a 'general' developmental progression only as there may be considerable variation between children.

Contact Information:

If you would like to comment or have further questions regarding this web site, you may contact me at the following e-mail address:

Carol Nemastil is a teacher of the hearing impaired in northern Ohio.


Guralnick, M. (1980). Social interaction among preschool handicapped children. Exceptional
Children, 46, 248-253.

Higginbotham, D., Baker, B., and Neill, R. (1981). Social participation and cognitive play differences
in hearing impaired and normally hearing preschoolers. Volta Review, April, 135-149.