AG Bell 2008: Monday Concurrent Sessions

EMPOWERING FAMILIES OF CHILDREN WITH COCHLEAR IMPLANTS AND OF LOW SES

Mary Ellen Nevins, Ed.D. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), Renate Schultz, B.A. (University of Chicago), and Dana Suskind, M.D. (University of Chicago)

This presentation was AMAZING.  The presenters began by discussing the lamentable disparities in health literacy and self-advocacy between families (especially mothers) of high socioeconomic status versus those on the lower end of the SES spectrum.  With greater insurance coverage and state/federal funding for cochlear implants in children, the gap in implantation rates between rich and poor children is quickly closing, but the outcomes for these children still remain unequal.  To address this problem, the presenters created project ASPIRE: Achieving Superior Parental Involvement for Rehabilitative Excellence.  Their innovative curriculum teaches basic parenting and child language skills that can greatly increase the spoken language success of children with hearing loss.  The lessons are delivered through cartoons, videotaped demonstrations, and incredibly catchy songs — I am still humming their doo-wop tune that teaches the Ling 6 Sound Check!

Listening and spoken language are accessible for all children — EVERY CHILD deserves the opportunity to speak for herself, and EVERY PARENT deserves the tools and support they need to give their child the best possible shot at success.

EVIDENCE BASED OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN USING SPOKEN LANGUAGE

Jean Moog, M.S. (Moog Center for Deaf Education), Heather Hayes (Washington University in St. Louis), Ann Geers, Ph.D. (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center — Dallas Cochlear Implant Program), and Julia Biedenstein (Moog Center for Deaf Education

There are SO MANY factors that can contribute to how well a child with a cochlear implant can develop listening a spoken language skills — how can we parse apart these many variables to determine the best “formula” for optimizing the success of all students whose parents desire for them the ability to listen and speak for themselves?  These researchers, all leaders in the field, compiled years and years of research, then analyzed them using some impressive and advanced statistical techniques — the result?  A step-by-step analysis of the various factors that can help children with cochlear implants listen, learn, and succeed comparable to their hearing peers.  Some of their results:

  • The younger, the better!  With all other variables controlled to be equal (IQ, parent education, etc.) children who received their cochlear implant(s) at younger ages (roughly 12months to 2years at the very oldest) scored in the normal range for HEARING children on receptive and expressive language tests, with half catching up to hearing peers by only 5 or 6 years of age.  Start young, catch up sooner!

  • Also, though children who are deaf or hard of hearing may start at a disadvantage on speech/language tests compared to their hearing peers, those who received cochlear implants an appropriate early intervention in speech, language, and listening not only made appropriate yearly progress, they even progressed further, closing the gap between deaf children and hearing peers over time as they gained more experience hearing through their CI(s).

These are just SOME of the many, many different factors the researchers discussed in their presentation.  Their formal papers describing these results are currently in editorial review for publication in several international journals.  I look forward to sharing this cutting-edge research with you as soon as it is published, so stay tuned for links coming soon!

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