Language ability in children with permanent hearing impairment: the influence of early management and family participation.
Watkin P., McCann D., Law C., Mullee M., Petrou S., Stevenson J., Worsfold S., Yuen HM., Kennedy C.
OBJECTIVE: The goal was to examine the relationships between management after confirmation, family participation, and speech and language outcomes in the same group of children with permanent childhood hearing impairment. METHODS: Speech, oral language, and nonverbal abilities, expressed as z scores and adjusted in a regression model, and Family Participation Rating Scale scores were assessed at a mean age of 7.9 years for 120 children with bilateral permanent childhood hearing impairment from a 1992-1997 United Kingdom birth cohort. Ages at institution of management and hearing aid fitting were obtained retrospectively from case notes. RESULTS: Compared with children managed later (> 9 months), those managed early (< or = 9 months) had higher adjusted mean z scores for both receptive and expressive language, relative to nonverbal ability, but not for speech. Compared with children aided later, a smaller group of more-impaired children aided early did not have significantly higher scores for these outcomes. Family Participation Rating Scale scores showed significant positive correlations with language and speech intelligibility scores only for those with confirmation after 9 months and were highest for those with late confirmed, severe/profound, permanent childhood hearing impairment. CONCLUSIONS: Early management of permanent childhood hearing impairment results in improved language. Family participation is also an important factor in cases that are confirmed late, especially for children with severe or profound permanent childhood hearing impairment.