What the Research Shows

By Felzien, Melody | Volta Voices, March/April 2010 | Go to article overview
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What the Research Shows


Felzien, Melody, Volta Voices


Spoken Language Development and Decision Aids

For over 110 years, researchers have explored questions about spoken language communication, publishing their findings in The Volta Review, a scholarly journal founded by Alexander Graham Bell to provide professionals with information about the ways in which hearing technology, health care, early intervention and education contribute to listening and spoken language development. Because best practices now focus on family-centered intervention, parents increasingly need access to research in order to make informed decisions about the health care and education options available to their children. With busy professionals and parents in mind, AG Bell is continuing an ongoing article series that highlights and summarizes research published in the most recent issues of The Volta Review.

Examining Spoken Language Development

The rate of spoken language development of children with hearing loss is an important area of study. This type of research has implications for parents in the process of making decisions about their child's hearing loss and language development, and for early intervention approaches. In three manuscripts published in 2009, various aspects of spoken language acquisition were studied and analyzed. This body of work contributes to a wide range of research supporting successful strategies for spoken language development.

In "The Acquisition of the Prosodie Word by Children with Hearing Loss," authors Limor Adi-Bensaid, Ph.D., and Tova Most, Ph.D., explore the development of complex word structures by children who have a cochlear implant and who are acquiring spoken Hebrew. Data collection started two to four months after the children received their implant, when the first words were produced, and continued until each child had completed acquisition of the prosodic, or complex, word.

The results were analyzed through comparison with the stages of complex word development of children with typical hearing. These steps include the initial stage of monosyllabic word production, the pre-minimal word stage of preserving the final and stressed syllable, the minimal word stage of producing polysyllabic words with a different stress pattern, the pre-final stage of producing three syllables of a word, and the final stage of producing four syllables of a word.

Results show that the earlier a child was identified and fitted with hearing aids, the quicker the overall rate of word development. In addition, the early introduction of a cochlear implant also increased the rate of progress. Researchers found that the age of hearing aid fitting and the age of implantation had a reciprocal effect, decreasing the amount of time it took the child to acquire the prosodie word. The authors further break down their analysis to the stages of word development. The authors conclude that early identification and intervention with hearing aids coupled with early cochlear implantation play a crucial role in the rate of language development.

Another article, the "Longitudinal Study of Speech Perception, Speech, and Language for Children with Hearing Loss in an Auditory-Verbal Therapy Program" by Dimity Dornan, Ba.Sp.Th., F.S.P.A.A., LSLS Cert. AVT, and colleagues, examines the progress of speech and language development of 25 children with hearing loss in an auditory-verbal therapy program. These children were tested initially, and then 21 months later, on a battery of language assessments. The speech and language results over time were compared with those for a control group of children with typical hearing, matched for initial language age, receptive vocabulary, gender and socioeconomic level.

Results show that speech perception scores for the children with hearing loss displayed significant improvement for live-voice presentations, but not for recorded voice. Both groups showed significant improvement over 21 months in scores for auditory comprehension, oral expression, total language and articulation of consonants.

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