Language and Behavioral Outcomes in Children With Developmental Disabilities Using Cochlear Implants


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Abstract

ObjectiveOver the past decade, the number of deaf children with developmental disabilities receiving cochlear implants has increased dramatically. However, little is known about the developmental outcomes of these children post-implantation. The current study evaluated oral language and behavioral outcomes over 3 years after implantation in a sample of typically developing deaf children and children with developmental disabilities.Study DesignA three year longitudinal study of the effects of cochlear implantation on language and behavioral outcomes in children with and without additional disabilities.SettingSix cochlear implant centers in the United States.PatientsThe study cohort consisted of 188 deaf children. Eighty-five percent of the sample (n = 157) had a single diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss and 15% (n = 31) had an additional disability.Main Outcome MeasuresOral language was assessed using the Reynell Developmental Language Scales, and behavioral outcomes were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist.ResultsResults using multilevel modeling indicated that deaf children with and without additional disabilities improved significantly in oral language skills post-implantation. However, children with additional disabilities made slower progress. In terms of specific diagnoses, children with developmental disorders, such as autism, made the slowest progress over time. In addition, behavior problems increased significantly in this group, whereas behavior problems decreased over 3 years in the typically developing deaf sample.ConclusionOverall, given the improvements in expressive and receptive language skills documented over 3 years, these findings support the use of cochlear implants for deaf children with developmental disabilities.

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