Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Impact of an Activity Mini-Schedule on the Inattention of Preschoolers with Cochlear Implants during a Group Activity

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Impact of an Activity Mini-Schedule on the Inattention of Preschoolers with Cochlear Implants during a Group Activity

Article excerpt


This pilot study evaluated the effectiveness of using an activity mini-schedule which divided a circle time activity into four sub-activities with four preschoolers who were deaf and had received cochlear implants. Often preschoolers with cochlear implants display difficulty directing attention to appropriate stimuli during large group activities (Chute & Nevins, 2003). It was hypothesized that the use of an activity mini-schedule would decrease inattention. Using a multiple baseline design across participants, an activity mini-schedule was introduced to each participant sequentially by a paraeducator who sat behind the children during circle time. Participants' behaviors were videotaped and coded. The introduction of an activity mini-schedule decreased inattention in all participants, yet individual outcomes varied. Although this study offers some evidence that activity mini-schedules may positively impact attention in young children, more research is needed.

KEYWORDS: Mini-Schedules, Evidence-Based Practice, Preschoolers, Cochlear Implants, Hearing Loss, Attention

Children who use cochlear implants demonstrate a variety of educational challenges which require effective modifications, accommodations, and teaching strategies from educators and speech-language therapists (Chute & Nevins, 2003). With appropriate remediation, these children have the potential to develop speech perception skills, articulation skills, receptive and expressive language skills, and cognitive skills (Edwards, Kahn, Broxholme, & Langdon, 2006; Horn, Davis, Pisoni, & Miyamoto, 2005; McKinley & Warren, 2000; Mitchell & Maslin, 2007; Quittner, Smith, Osberger, Mitchell, & Katz, 1994; Smith, Quittner, Osberger, & Miyamoto, 1998; Tharpe, Ashmead, & Rothpletz, 2002; Tiber, 1985). In order to develop these skills, a cochlear implant user must first learn how to direct and sustain attention during various academic and social activities (Ertmer, 2002).

From early in development, the auditory and visual systems work in conjunction so that a tight coupling develops between what a child hears and where they look as they visually localize sound (Mitchell & Maslin, 2007; Smith et al., 1998). This coupling helps a child with typical hearing to adapt to the environment, perceive and process incoming stimuli, and adjust focus without having to interrupt a task (Edwards et al., 2006; Horn et al., 2005; Quittner et al., 1994; Smith et al., 1998). With reduced access to auditory information, the child with hearing loss increases dependence on the visual system so that it assumes more attentional responsibilities, including trying to focus on the current task while monitoring events elsewhere in the environment (Chute & Nevins, 2003; Mitchell & Maslin, 2007). When the visual system assumes increased attentional functions, the result is a reduction in sustained visual attention, decreased task engagement, and distractibility (Mitchell & Maslin, 2007; Tiber, 1985). A prelingual child who is deaf and who uses a cochlear implant must learn to adjust and respond to auditory information that is now accessible through the implant so that a balanced relationship between the auditory and visual system can develop. As more auditory cues become available, dependence upon visual attention decreases and listening demands increase (Chute & Nevins, 2003). Consequently, it may be useful for early childhood educators to facilitate language processing and task engagement by supplementing verbal information with some visual supports.

Visual supports have been found to be an effective way to facilitate language processing and increase task engagement (Bevill, Gast, Maguire, & Vail, 2001; Breitfelder, 2008; Bryan & Gast, 2000; Massey & Wheeler, 2000; Morrison, Sainato, Benchaaban, & Endo, 2002; Stromer, Kimball, Kinney, & Taylor, 2006; Tissot & Evans, 2003). …

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