Developmental Science

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Volume 21 Issue 6 (November 2018), Pages

Attention to speech and spoken language development in deaf children with cochlear implants: a 10‐year longitudinal study


Early auditory/language experience plays an important role in language development. In this study, we examined the effects of severe‐to‐profound hearing loss and subsequent cochlear implantation on the development of attention to speech in children with cochlear implants (CIs). In addition, we investigated the extent to which attention to speech may predict spoken language development in children with CIs. We tested children with CIs and compared them to chronologically age‐matched peers with normal hearing (NH) on their attention to speech at four time points post implantation; specifically, less than 1 month, 3 to 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months post implantation. We also collected a variety of well‐established speech perception and spoken language measures from the children with CIs in a 10‐year longitudinal study. Children with CIs showed reduced attention to speech as compared to their peers with NH at less than 1 month post implantation, but a similar degree of attention to speech as their NH peers during later time points. In addition, attention to speech at 3 to 6 months post implantation predicts speech perception in children with CIs. These results inform language acquisition theories and bring insights into our understanding of early severe‐to‐profound hearing loss on infants’ attention to speech skills. In addition, the findings have significant clinical implications for early intervention on hearing loss, which emphasizes the importance of developing strong listening skills. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at:

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