Relationship Between Age Of Cochlear Implantation With Written Language Skills In Children
Yucel, Esra Ersoy
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Objective: In this study, written language skills of deaf children as a function of age at implantation was examined and results were compared to normal hearing peers. Subjects and Methods: Thirty five children fitted with cochlear implants, aged between 6 and 11 years, were evaluated in terms of their written language abilities and were compared with results those of 35 age- matched normal hearing children. The children with cochlear implants were analyzed in two groups according to their age at implantation; under 4 years and at/over 4 years old. A Written Expression Skills Assessment Form was used to evaluate the written language skills of the two group of implanted children with those of normal hearing peers. Five different feautures of written expression points were scored and analysed, yielding composite score for written expression skills. Results: The results revealed significantly different language skill composite scores of children who underwent cochlear implantation before and after the age of four. The children who were implanted before the age of four years had significantly higher scores compared to children implanted after four years of age. Moreover, scores obtained from group of children implanted before four years were similar to scores by the normal hearing group. The most difficult skill for the implanted group before the age of four years was in assisting keytone. Expression formation and productiveness was most difficult for children implanted after the age of four years. The findings indicate that children implanted at a relatively late age (i.e. after the age of four years) entered primary school later than their peers implanted at a younger age demonstrated lower academic skills, and have continued in special education. Conclusion: These findings highlighted the importance of cochlear implantation during the critical period of language development. It is known that written language competency facilitates academic achivement and career choice. Written language skills should be assessed at regular test intervals, and training programs should promote development of written language skills.