Susan Nittrouer, PhD, professor and director of research at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology, has recently published two  articles studying literacy and children with cochlear implants.

Both papers are based on a decade-long study that has followed over 100 children with hearing loss and normal hearing, some from birth, with a goal of establishing predictors of future language abilities and the long-term extent of support needed for their success.

The studies offer a look at what measures are the most accurate predictors, and the types of interventions that may improve literacy.

In "Measuring what matters: Effectively predicting language and literacy in children with cochlear implants," published in International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, her goal was to evaluate how well various language measures typically used with very young children after they receive cochlear implants predict language and literacy skills as they enter school. The study included 50 children, some with normal hearing and some with cochlear implants. She concluded that before 24 months of age, the best predictor of later language success is language comprehension. In general, measures that index a child’s cognitive processing of language are the most sensitive predictors of school-age language abilities.

The second article published in Ear and Hearing, "Emergent Literacy in Kindergartners with Cochlear Implants," examined the early or emergent literacy of young cochlear implant recipients.

The study looked at 27 deaf children with CIs, who had just completed kindergarten and had been tested on emergent literacy, and on cognitive and linguistic skills that support emergent literacy. Nittrouer found that intensive language support needs to continue through at least the early elementary grades for these patients. Also, a period of bimodal stimulation during the preschool years can help boost emergent literacy skills to some extent.

SOURCE: Referenced Abstracts