How much does early childhood hearing loss impact linguistic abilities into adulthood? In a study conducted by Elahe Shojaei, Zahra Jafari and Maryam Gholami on Persian children ages six to seven years old, they set out to determine the impact severe sensorineural hearing loss has on the language development and communicative abilities. Sensorineural hearing loss, or SNHL, affects the inner ear. Damage to the nerve pathways from your inner ear to your brain can also cause SNHL. The authors pursued this study to assess the gravity of the negative effect of hearing loss on language development, and if this language gap could be lessened with early intervention services. Assessing two different age groups of children with congenital hearing loss using the Persian TOLD-P3 test to evaluate language at an early age made this study possible. The subjects were chosen based on age group, similar socioeconomic backgrounds, and bilateral behind-the-ear hearing aids for severe sensorineural hearing loss.
The data was retrieved using a medical family history questionnaire, the same audiologic evaluation of immittance and pure tone audiometry, and followed by a linguistic assessment using the Persian TOLD-P3 test. The Persian TOLD-P3 test is comprised of 11 subtests testing different aspects of linguistic comprehension in semantics, syntax, and vocabulary. The results of this test are used to determine the visual vocabulary, grammatical completion, word differentiation, phoneme analysis, and word production scores of each subject. The study showed significant difference in the results of the Persian TOLD-P3 test performed on the different age groups. The results support the negative effect late identification of hearing loss has on the syntactical comprehension and phonological skills of language. However, using the advanced technology to identify hearing loss at an earlier age, early intervention can promote normal lingual development and sensory growth for children with sensorineural hearing loss.
This study was done well, as it shows the importance early intervention has on a child’s language development and the importance of identifying language concerns early on. I think this study is most beneficial and influential for audiologists and ENT providers concerned by the benefits of intervening early on in a child’s life with hearing aids and surgery. This study shows that the sooner a child is diagnosed with a hearing loss and receives reparative measures, the more likely the child will develop normal linguistic skills. In addition, as a future speech pathologist, knowing this information serves as a reminder to parents and myself that a child can progress and develop language skills following hearing loss. In the future, however, this study should follow the students post-intervention and to determine the growth of linguistic skills and its application into reading and writing skills in school environments. This way the study does not only determine the benefits of early hearing loss intervention on language, but that there is not a disconnect in verbal abilities with other areas of language comprehension. Overall this study confirmed the impact hearing loss has on linguistic development and the importance of identifying hearing impairments in order to introduce intervention methods to close the linguistic gap and promote emotional, academic, social and sensory growth.