Cognitive Development and
Does hearing loss influence the development of thinking skills?
Does hearing loss affect memory?
There is a long history of investigations reporting that deaf children lag behind hearing peers in learning, problem solving, and creativity. In this chapter we describe the kinds of evidence that led to such conclusions and the extent to which they appear to be valid today.
Early research concerning cognitive development in deaf children often was aimed at understanding intellectual growth “in the absence of language.” Other investigations involved tasks that required comprehension of English or histories of reading. More recently, we have come to understand that both kinds of evaluation might be biased against deaf children. Still, ways in which deaf children's atypical histories of language functioning and educational experience might influence their cognitive development are largely unexplored.
There have been a variety of studies dealing with deaf children's cognitive skills, and especially memory, sometimes including consideration of language fluencies and degree of hearing loss. More recently, various tests of cognitive ability have been developed that are nonverbal in nature or can be administered through sign language. The extent to which those tests accurately reflect the thinking skills of deaf children still remains poorly understood, as does the question of whether such tests tap the same skills that they do in hearing children. Further, some people still make the appealing but dubious assumption that cognitive development is essentially