Research is catching up to what parents and professionals working closely with our children already know from experience, that cochlear implants in combination with Auditory-Verbal therapy provide our children with the greatest chance of leading their lives successfully and happily in the mainstream alongside their peers born with normal hearing.
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MEDIA RELEASE: New data shows deaf children can keep pace entering mainstream school.
Posted: 29-Jan-2010 03:41 PM
Sunday 24th January 2010: As young hearing-impaired graduates from The Shepherd Centre make their final preparations to begin “big” school, new data released today shows they can expect to do just as well in their language and vocabulary development as their mainstream peers.
Preliminary data analysis from The Shepherd Centre shows that the vast majority of hearing impaired children who graduate from the Shepherd Centre to a mainstream school will score in the “normal” range; for vocabulary (79 % of children are in the normal range) and language (71 %of children are in the normal range) as they enter school.
Around 84% of the general population of children will be in the normal range for language and vocabulary skills.
The data is derived from a sample of 41 Shepherd Centre students who were diagnosed through the NSW SWISH newborn hearing screening program and who graduated from The Shepherd Centre’s Early Intervention Auditory-Verbal Therapy program into mainstream schools in 2007, 2008 & 2009.
The similarity between the scores for hearing impaired children and mainstream kids would have been unheard of ten years ago, where just integrating a hearing impaired child into a mainstream school was seen as a major achievement. In many cases children over a decade ago would have had very poor communication skills.
According to Acting Director of the Clinical Program at The Shepherd Centre, Aleisha Davis, the main developments underpinning these results are early diagnosis, improved technology and improved early intervention. Universal newborn screening in NSW was introduced in 2002, this has made a big difference.
“The average age of children with hearing problems joining the Shepherd Centre program is now eight weeks, whereas a decade ago the average age was over two years. Fitting the children early with the latest hearing devices allows them to participate in Auditory-Verbal therapy from a very early age. Early diagnosis, early fitting and early intervention are the keys to success,” said Ms Davis.
The Shepherd Centre was the first fully Auditory-Verbal Therapy Early Intervention Agency in the country starting 40 years ago. Today the centre has five internationally certified Auditory-Verbal therapists, which is 28% of those certified in NSW, 14% of those certified in Australia and approximately 1% of those in the world with this level of professional certification and ongoing mentoring.
“The results of this study show that these children, who have a range of hearing loss from profound to mild are achieving results that were unimaginable just ten years ago. This is a great outcome for parents of children with hearing loss, as well as the children themselves who can go on in life and lead fully normal integrated lives reaching their full potential,” said Ms Davis.
“Cochlear implants have also made a huge difference to the prospects and outcomes of children with severe and profound hearing losses. In many cases now, with early diagnosis and cochlear implants and early Auditory-Verbal therapy through early intervention programmes, their communication skills are excellent and many people would not know they were actually deaf.”
The clinical team at the Shepherd Centre will continue to test, analyse and report on the progress of their graduates. Data on speech production is currently being collected and will be analysed in the near future.
Click Here to download The Shepherd Centre Outcomes Document
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New research gives voice to hearing-impaired children during kids E.N.T. health month
Children who have cochlear implants (CI) rank their quality of life (QOL) equal to their normally hearing (NH) peers, indicates new research in the February 2010 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that restores partial hearing to the deaf. It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike a hearing aid, it does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, the device bypasses damaged parts of the auditory system and directly stimulates the hearing nerve, allowing deaf or severely hard of hearing individuals to receive sound. The National Institutes of Health estimate that as many as 59,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants, with roughly half of those in the pediatric population.
Prior research has indicated that deaf children feel less socially accepted, experience more difficulty in making friends, and demonstrate greater adjustment problems than their hearing peers. The subsequent success of the multi-channel CI devices that improve speech perception and language development led researchers to look beyond speech and language performance to questions of psycho-social behaviors and adjustment.
This cross-sectional study of 88 families with CI children from 16 U.S. states used a generic QOL questionnaire. The group was then divided by age of the child when they filled out the questionnaire: an 8-11-year-old group and a 12-16-year-old group. Both parents and children were asked to fill out the QOL questionnaire, with the parents assessing their child. The study group was then compared to a control group of 1,501 NH children in fourth and eighth grades.
Results of the questionnaire revealed that overall QOL did not differ between CI and NH groups. However, examination of individual subscales revealed that 8-11-year-old CI children rate their QOL with family less positively than their NH peers. Younger CI recipients rated overall QOL more positively than the older 12-16-year-old CI group. However, the authors point out that this could be a reflection of standard adolescent behavior. Overall QOL showed a significant inverse association with age at implantation, and a significant positive correlation with duration of CI use in the 12-16-year-old group.
The authors point out that even though prior studies have assessed QOL in CI children, this study adds additional perspective to the literature, as it combines assessments by the actual CI recipients and parents, and it maps the results in context with NH children. In addition to findings about how CI children rank their QOL, the research reveals that parents proved to be reliable reporters for their children in areas where they could observe and participate.
The authors write, “For profoundly deaf children who regularly use a cochlear implant, feelings about life overall are no better or worse than their hearing peers. These findings indicate that cochlear implantation has a positive effect on certain psycho-social domains.”