Several surveys on cochlear implants and spoken language development were published during August to October 2015, and are curated here for easy reference.
Early Intervention For Deaf Children
Remembering “a child learning to speak the English language must master 44 different speech sounds, cochlear implants and early intervention facilitate this choice for family life.
Parents are the child’s first line of communication in their earliest years. The first-of-its-kind Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss (OCHL) study of children aged 6 months to 7 years notes that with early intervention, children with hearing-devices “can catch up or significantly close the gap with their hearing peers when hearing-devices are worn” [consistently].
Babble and Linguistic Sounds
Four months after a cochlear implant, children detect basic linguistic sounds like vowel length and frequency discrimination, according to research by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and Technische Universität Dresden.
Another study on acoustical infant language acquisition with implants (University of Missouri School of Health Professions) notes that baby babble catches up to hearing peers after a cochlear implant is received: namely, that the babies hear and respond to their own babble.
Reading And Music
In older children, reading ability can improve drastically after a cochlear implant, as evidenced by a report from Chattanooga Speech and Hearing Centre:
Before the implant, Kira’s reading level was far below her peers. Now, because she can actually hear the teacher and understand how to communicate, she has exceeded her grade level in reading. Ms. Alexander was told Kira would be limited to a third grade reading level if she kept her hearing loss the way it was. But she says she is forever grateful that her family no longer worries about her future.
Research into music benefit for children learning to decode speech sounds, shows:
The children who sang regularly at home, were better able to shift their attention to changes in sounds than those who did not sing.
Singing benefits children with cochlear implants, with good perception of voice pitch and of emphasis in spoken words and syllables relating to language skills, says SLT Ritva Torppa at the University of Helsinki:
- Boosts childrens’ detection of acoustic changes in rhythm (plus musical pitch & timbre).
- Primes the brain and reassigns neural networks after deafness, for auditory attention.
- Children identify changes in voice pitch, emphasis/stress in spoken words & syllables.
- Auditory working memory in children with implants improved when music was accessed.
One controversial study predicts the possible success of cochlear implants in deaf children but the growing knowledge base about implants informs decision-making in other ways.