Gender Differences in Response to Auditory-Verbal Intervention in Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

Recent research has questioned the role of gender in language development and in special education outcomes, yet neither issue has been addressed in literature on students who are deaf or hard of hearing. To determine if language and placement outcomes differ by gender, the present study considered the behavior of children who attended a clinical program subscribing to an auditory-verbal philosophy. Parents of 28 boys and 42 girls with hearing losses evaluated their children using the Parent Rating Scale of the Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised (Roid & Miller, 1997) and the Parental View of Therapy Scale (developed for the present study). Also, clinical file data were surveyed. The boys were found to be more likely than the girls to be rated by their parents as having basic features of temperament nonconducive to traditional clinical language intervention. The girls' language and placement outcomes surpassed the boys', although both groups' outcomes were positive. A possible limitation of the study was that the population was atypical of students with hearing losses in general.

A new round of research is considering the differences in how boys and girls should be educated, with some researchers providing compelling arguments for single-sex instruction (American Association of University Women, 1992; Pollack, 1998; Ruhlman, 1996). A similar line of research examines the different effects early intervention and later school experiences have on each gender (Ely, Gleason, & McCabe, 1996; Wardle, 1991). Further, sufficient data exist in the literature to support the notion that hearing boys learn language in different ways and at different rates than hearing girls (Kimura, 1992; Morisset, Barnard, & Booth, 1995; Swann, 1992). Although various lines of research look at the impact of developmental and instructional experiences in hearing students from the perspective of "gender specificity" (a term first put forth by Wachs in 1979), little research exists regarding the possible importance of this line of study regarding students who are deaf or hard of hearing (Kluwin, 1994).

The literature on students who are deaf or hard of hearing supports the fact that at age 18 years most students who are deaf, and many who are hard of hearing, still have significant language problems (Kuntze, 1998; Paul & Quigley, 1994). Children with hearing losses have difficulty with English-language grammar (Berent, 1988; Wilbur, 1982), vocabulary and word meaning (Lederberg & Prezbindowski, 2000), and pragmatics (Day, 1986; Kretschmer & Kretschmer, 1988). These problems manifest themselves most noticeably in reading and writing (Allen, 1994; Holt, 1993; Kuntze, 1998). Students who are deaf or hard of hearing have difficulty with word learning, whether based on sight words or phonics (Hanson & Fowler, 1987), with reading comprehension (Waters & Doehring, 1991), and with written language skills (Paul, 1998).

Although researchers and educators know that differences exist between the outcomes for hearing boys and hearing girls with disabilities both for verbal skills in general (Denno, 1982; Halpern, 1986) and for high school graduation in particular (U.S. Department of Education, 1998), few studies exist of the impact of various instructional practices on outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing boys and girls. As noted in the 20th annual report to Congress on implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (U.S. Department of Education, 1998), there is a need to disaggregate data on males and females with disabilities in order to determine differential results from disability to disability and between genders within disability categories.

Given the results of years of research indicating that hearing boys learn differently from hearing girls, might the same hold true for deaf boys and girls? The purpose of the present study was to determine whether early intervention outcomes varied according to gender. …