Language Development and Social Interaction in Children with Hearing Loss

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary This project uses objectively measured, longitudinal data to capture the vocal interactions of children with hearing loss in order to understand everyday factors that facilitate their language development. Significance. Hearing loss (HL) is associated with delays and difficulties in social and language development. Even with cochlear implantation (CI), HL is a life-altering condition with high social costs. Inclusion of children with HL and typically hearing (TH) peers in preschool classrooms is a national standard, but little is known about how early interaction contributes to the language development of these children. The project premise, supported by preliminary data, holds that language-mediated interactions with peers and teachers in inclusive classrooms positively influences the language development of both children with HL and their TH peers. Innovation. Temporally intensive, objective measurements of child and teacher movement in classrooms will be synchronized with automated analysis of continuously recorded, child-specific audio recordings. Computational modeling of child location and orientation within classrooms will indicate when children are in social contact with their peers and teachers, fertile periods for language-mediated interaction. Approach. Participants will include 125 children (55 with hearing loss who have cochlear implants or hearing aids, and 70 with typical hearing) who are enrolled in three inclusive oral language classrooms. Children will be observed longitudinally in an early preschool (2-year-old), preschool (3-year-old), and pre-kindergarten (4-year-old) classes. Each class will be observed once per year over the 5 year project. (15 unique classes). Objective measurements of social contact and language use occur twice a month while standardized assessments of receptive/expressive language competencies occur at the beginning and end of the school year. Aim 1. Determine whether exposure to partner speech during periods of social contact longitudinally predicts speech to those partners during social contact. Overall, higher levels of socially mediated exposure to peer and teacher speech are hypothesized to predict higher speech to those partners. Socially mediated exposure to more vocally responsive partner speech and more phonemically complex speech is hypothesized to yield higher rates of more phonemically complex child speech. Aim 2. Determine the longitudinal influence of speech to partners during social contact on the development of children's language competencies. Children's speech to peers and teachers?particularly more phonemically complex speech?is hypothesized to be associated with increases in their assessed language competencies. Aim 3. Determine whether hearing loss directly or indirectly impacts the longitudinal development of speech to partners during social contact and assessed language competencies. In addition to testing for differences between children with HL and TH, Aim 3 explores whether associations between socially mediated vocal interactions and the development of language competencies differs among children with HL on the basis of factors such as hearing age (time since augmented hearing). Aim 3 also explores the role of other individual differences such as biological sex and SES indices on patterns of interactive speech with partners and assessed language competencies. Rigor and reproducibility will be enhanced by the use of objective measurement, data-driven computational models, and dissemination of study tools and de-identified data.
Effective start/end date2/1/211/31/22


  • National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders: $282,415.00


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