BACKGROUND: children with hearing loss do not acquire language at the same time nor at the same rate of normal hearing children because the learning process of oral language is essentially auditory. Child development consists in gradually acquiring motor and psychocognitive abilities. Entering the symbolic world is decisive for the child to reach higher levels of linguistic complexity. AIM: to correlate symbolic play and aspects of child development in deaf children and in hearing children. METHOD: participants of this study were 32 children, of both genders, with ages between 2 and 6 years, age matched. All participants were submitted to the Evaluation of Symbolic Maturation and to the Denver Developmental Screening Test II. Sixteen participants presented moderate to profound sensory-neural hearing loss and composed the research group (RG); the remaining 16 children had normal hearing and composed the control group (CG). RESULTS: symbolism was observed in the play of 81.25% of RG and in 87.5% of CG. In the Denver Developmental Screening Test II, 100% of the RG was classified as being at risk. As for the CG, 94% of the children were classified as normal and the remaining 6% as being at risk (p<0.001). CONCLUSION: a similar performance was observed between the groups for symbolic play. However, in a qualitative analysis, the RG presented less complex symbolic play than the CG. It was observed that the RG presented a performance in the symbolic play compatible to its performance in aspects of personal-social, refined motor and gross motor control in the Denver Developmental Screening Test II.
Language development; Child development; Deafness; Symbolism