Hearing devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants often provide the only way to restore audibility to children with hearing loss. Effects of early intervention with such devices are remarkable with clear benefits in hearing and language development. Yet, many children using these hearing devices continue to have developmental lags relative to normal hearing peers in language, cognition, and academic skills. Our research defines and explores these developmental challenges and asks what contributes to them. Electrophysiological and behavioral assessments have demonstrated that the immature auditory system is altered both by what auditory input is provided and by what is missing. Important gaps are delays to bilateral auditory input, poor access to binaural cues resulting in poor spatial hearing, vestibular/balance impairments, inconsistent device use, and limitations to communicative interactions. By understanding these gaps, we can focus on how to improve the hearing we provide to children with hearing loss and support their interactions with the people and world around them.
Upon completion of this learning activity, the learner should be able to:
- Describe a functional consequence of unilateral deprivation in childhood
- Explain aural preference for the better hearing ear in development
- Identify barriers to spatial hearing perception in children using cochlear implants