Early Maternal Word-Learning Cues to Children with and without Cochlear Implants
Lund, Emily Ann
Despite improvements in amplification technology, the vocabulary growth of children with cochlear implants lag behind that of typically developing children. Maternal input may influence opportunities for children with cochlear implants to learn new vocabulary words. This pair of studies compared mothers’ multimodal cues about word referents available to and used by children with cochlear implants and children with normal hearing. The first quantified the proportion of converging and diverging auditory-visual cues present in maternal speech to children with cochlear implants as compared to children with normal hearing matched for chronological age and matched for vocabulary size. Mothers provided input to children with cochlear implants in a way that was different from the way that mothers provide input to children matched for vocabulary size. The second study evaluated the effects of synchronous and asynchronous auditory-visual cues on the word-learning performance of children with cochlear implants and children with normal hearing matched for chronological age. Children with cochlear implants did not learn words in either condition, whereas children with normal hearing made use of synchronous cues to learn words. These findings represent a first step toward determining how environment-level factors influence the lexical outcomes of children with cochlear implants.