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      Early Intervention and Language Development in Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

      1
      Pediatrics
      American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

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          Abstract

          Objective.

          The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between age of enrollment in intervention and language outcomes at 5 years of age in a group of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

          Method.

          Vocabulary skills at 5 years of age were examined in a group of 112 children with hearing loss who were enrolled at various ages in a comprehensive intervention program. Verbal reasoning skills were explored in a subgroup of 80 of these children. Participants were evaluated using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and a criterion-referenced measure, the Preschool Language Assessment Instrument, administered individually by professionals skilled in assessing children with hearing loss. A rating scale was developed to characterize the level of family involvement in the intervention program for children in the study.

          Results.

          A statistically significant negative correlation was found between age of enrollment and language outcomes at 5 years of age. Children who were enrolled earliest (eg, by 11 months of age) demonstrated significantly better vocabulary and verbal reasoning skills at 5 years of age than did later-enrolled children. Regardless of degree of hearing loss, early-enrolled children achieved scores on these measures that approximated those of their hearing peers. In an attempt to understand the relationships among performance and factors, such as age of enrollment, family involvement, degree of hearing loss, and nonverbal intelligence, multiple regression models were applied to the data. The analyses revealed that only 2 of these factors explained a significant amount of the variance in language scores obtained at 5 years of age: family involvement and age of enrollment. Surprisingly, family involvement explained the most variance after controlling for the influence of the other factors (r = .615; F change = 58.70), underscoring the importance of this variable. Age of enrollment also contributed significantly to explained variance after accounting for the other variables in the regression (r = −.452; F change = 19.24). Importantly, there were interactions between the factors of family involvement and age of enrollment that influenced outcomes. Early enrollment was of benefit to children across all levels of family involvement. However, the most successful children in this study were those with high levels of family involvement who were enrolled early in intervention services. Late-identified children whose families were described as limited or average in involvement scored >2 standard deviations below their hearing peers at 5 years of age. Even in the best of circumstances (eg, early enrollment paired with high levels of family involvement), the children in this study scored within the low average range in abstract verbal reasoning compared with hearing peers, reflecting qualitative language differences in these groups of children.

          Conclusions.

          Consistent with the findings of Yoshinaga-Itano et al,1 significantly better language scores were associated with early enrollment in intervention. High levels of family involvement correlated with positive language outcomes, and, conversely, limited family involvement was associated with significant child language delays at 5 years of age, especially when enrollment in intervention was late. The results suggest that success is achieved when early identification is paired with early interventions that actively involve families.

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          Most cited references32

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          Language of early- and later-identified children with hearing loss.

          To compare the language abilities of earlier- and later-identified deaf and hard-of-hearing children. We compared the receptive and expressive language abilities of 72 deaf or hard-of-hearing children whose hearing losses were identified by 6 months of age with 78 children whose hearing losses were identified after the age of 6 months. All of the children received early intervention services within an average of 2 months after identification. The participants' receptive and expressive language abilities were measured using the Minnesota Child Development Inventory. Children whose hearing losses were identified by 6 months of age demonstrated significantly better language scores than children identified after 6 months of age. For children with normal cognitive abilities, this language advantage was found across all test ages, communication modes, degrees of hearing loss, and socioeconomic strata. It also was independent of gender, minority status, and the presence or absence of additional disabilities. Significantly better language development was associated with early identification of hearing loss and early intervention. There was no significant difference between the earlier- and later-identified groups on several variables frequently associated with language ability in deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Thus, the variable on which the two groups differed (age of identification and intervention) must be considered a potential explanation for the language advantage documented in the earlier-identified group.
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            The newborn with hearing loss: detection in the nursery.

            Early detection of hearing loss coupled with appropriate early intervention is critical to speech, language, and cognitive development. These competencies serve as the foundation for later academic skills. For these reasons, many states are undertaking aggressive efforts to screen all newborns before hospital discharge. Universal detection of hearing loss in newborns is a three-stage process composed of 1) the birth admission screen, 2) follow-up and diagnosis, and 3) intervention services. Breakdown at any stage jeopardizes the entire effort. The goals of this research are to examine the birth admission screen by reviewing outcome measurements for 54 228 Texas newborns and to evaluate factors that impact outcomes positively or negatively. All newborns were screened for hearing loss using a physiologic test of auditory function; either screening auditory brainstem responses or transient evoked otoacoustic emissions. Screening occurred in the newborn and intensive care nurseries, before hospital discharge in 9 sites as part of the nursery protocol. Patients. A total of 54 228 newborns were available for screening. Four measures were evaluated and are reported: the number of births screened, the number of newborns who passed the screen before discharge, the number of infants who returned for follow-up, and the number of infants identified with hearing loss. A Birth Screening Performance Index is also calculated. Results are reported for calendar years 1994, 1995, 1996, and through June 1997. A total of 54 228 newborns were available for screening; 52 508 were screened before hospital discharge during their birth admission and 50 721 passed this screen. Infants returning for follow-up screen as outpatients numbered 1224. Over this 31/2-year span, 113 infants who failed the birth admission screening had hearing loss that was sensorineural in nature. From these data, the estimated incidence of hearing loss is 3.14/1000 infants. Screening in the nursery with low false-positive rates can be achieved when three elements are present: audiology involvement, hospital support, and automated data and information management. Follow-up measures need improvement. Better tracking methods may help assure that at-risk newborns are connected to services.
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              The Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program: experience with statewide hearing screening (1993-1996)

              The objective of this study was to evaluate key outcomes of a universal hearing screen/rescreen program for all births with transient evoked otoacoustic emissions in all 8 maternity hospitals in the state of Rhode Island over a 4-year period. This was a retrospective analysis of the hearing screen/rescreen refer data collected prospectively for 53,121 survivors born in Rhode Island between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 1996. Primary outcomes included the first-stage refer rates, rescreen compliance, diagnostic referral rates, identification rates, and the age of amplification. During this 4-year time period 11 infants were identified with permanent hearing loss, resulting in an impairment rate of 2 per 1000. The mean age of hearing loss confirmation decreased from 8.7 months to 3.5 months, and the age at amplification declined from 13.3 months to 5.7 months. We conclude that time and experience are important factors in the development and refinement of a universal hearing screen program. Hearing screen outcome data collected over a 4-year period in Rhode Island reveal a steady improvement in the percent of infants completing the 2-stage screen process, the stage 1 and stage 2 refer rates, compliance with rescreen and diagnostic testing, and significant improvement in the age of identification and age of amplification.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Pediatrics
                American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
                1098-4275
                0031-4005
                September 01 2000
                September 01 2000
                September 01 2000
                September 01 2000
                : 106
                : 3
                : e43
                Affiliations
                [1 ]1 From the Center for Childhood Deafness, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska.
                Article
                10.1542/peds.106.3.e43
                10969127
                802fa559-2a4e-4029-82b4-eb654531c5b3
                © 2000

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