The purpose of the project reported here was to examine the effects of three independent variables on developmental outcomes for children with hearing loss (HL): age of identification of hearing loss, whether or not spoken language input was supported with signs and whether children used hearing aids (HAs) or cochlear implants (CI). Children with and without hearing loss were tested multiple times between 12 and 48 months of age, at their 6-month birthdays. Dependent variables were selected to examine all aspects of child development: receptive and expressive language, psychosocial components of personality, deleterious behaviors, adaptive behaviors, parental language style, and levels of parenting stress. Results support several main findings:

  1. None of the independent variables had any significant effect on any dependent variable unrelated to language.

  2. Mean levels of all language skills were delayed for all groups of children with HL, even those children identified at birth with only moderate losses that could be appropriately aided with HAs.

  3. For children with losses identified at birth, the use or nonuse of signs to support spoken language input did not affect language outcomes in the long run.

  4. Within the restricted range examined here, age of identification did not affect language outcomes, if children were not getting sign support; children with late-identified hearing loss receiving sign support were more delayed on all language measures than other children with HL.

  5. Regarding prosthesis, some experience using HAs was associated with better outcomes, even if children eventually received CIs.

  6. A parental language style that involved being very verbally responsive to the child's communicative attempts was strongly associated with positive language outcomes.


  • R. Brownell (Ed.). (2000). Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (3rd ed.). Novato, CA: Academic Therapy Publications, Inc.

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