M.A. in Learning Disabilities
Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education
College of Education
Cochlear implants; Hearing impaired children--Education
Disability and Equity in Education
The purpose of this study was to determine the most appropriate age for young hearing impaired children to receive a cochlear implant that would best facilitate oral language development. The study compared the oral language skills of five hearing impaired preschoolers, before and after implantation. Information was obtained through student case files including both formal and informal records and reports. Records included: progress reports, IEPs, audiological evaluations, and speech and language assessments.
The results of the study indicated that the development of oral language skills in hearing impaired preschoolers who received cochlear implants at ages 3 and 4 varies due to individual circumstances. A specific, ideal age for implantation cannot be pinpointed because there are many other aspects which affect success. Each subject must be looked at as a whole child, considering which aspects were positive and negative influences on successful communication growth. Age of implantation alone does not determine successful oral language growth.
Research has shown us that early amplification provides the best results for language development. This principle should apply to any mode of amplification. It would seem logical to assume that the earlier the child is implanted, the better the success rate for learning to orally communicate. The amount of language before implantation must also be taken into account when determining how much more develops with an implant.
In the five subjects studied, two can be considered successful in that they were able to remain in oral programs for the hearing impaired or move into the mainstream after implantation, using oral language as their main mode of communication. Two other subjects continued to struggle with spoken language after implantation and moved from oral programs to total communication programs, using sign language. The remaining subject did not qualify as a candidate so did not receive a cochlear implant. This subject continues to use conventional hearing aids and has also moved into a total communication program due to slow oral language development.
Stillwagon, Lisa A., "Cochlear implants, a study of children implanted prelingually and postlingually: what age best facilitates oral language development" (1999). Theses and Dissertations. 1886.