Examining Multiple Sources of Influence on the Reading Comprehension Skills of Children Who Use Cochlear Implants Children with profound deafness are at risk for serious reading difficulties. Multiple factors affect their development of reading skills, including use of cochlear implants. Further, multiple factors influence the overall success that children experience with their cochlear implants. These factors include the age at which they receive an implant, method ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 2004
Examining Multiple Sources of Influence on the Reading Comprehension Skills of Children Who Use Cochlear Implants
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carol McDonald Connor
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Teresa A. Zwolan
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: cconnor@umich.edu
Article Information
Development / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 2004
Examining Multiple Sources of Influence on the Reading Comprehension Skills of Children Who Use Cochlear Implants
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2004, Vol. 47, 509-526. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/040)
History: Received February 9, 2003 , Accepted January 5, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2004, Vol. 47, 509-526. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/040)
History: Received February 9, 2003; Accepted January 5, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 65

Children with profound deafness are at risk for serious reading difficulties. Multiple factors affect their development of reading skills, including use of cochlear implants. Further, multiple factors influence the overall success that children experience with their cochlear implants. These factors include the age at which they receive an implant, method of communication, vocabulary skills, preoperative residual hearing, and socioeconomic status. Ninety-one children with prelingual and profound hearing impairments who received cochlear implants at varying ages participated in the study. Structural equation modeling confirmed that multiple factors affected young cochlear implant users' reading comprehension skills and that there were significant associations between the predictors of reading comprehension. Pre-implant vocabulary had an indirect positive effect on reading through postimplant vocabulary, which had a direct positive effect on reading. Overall, children with stronger language skills demonstrated stronger reading outcomes. Age at implantation both directly and indirectly, through postimplant vocabulary, affected reading outcomes, and the total effect was large. Children who were younger when they received their implants tended to have higher reading comprehension scores. Socioeconomic status negatively affected reading. Children who used total communication prior to implantation tended to have stronger pre-implant vocabulary scores, but the total effect of pre-implant communication method on children's reading skills was negligible. Research and educational implications are discussed.

Acknowledgments
The Spencer Foundation provided part of the funding for this research. We are grateful to Laura Klem for her guidance regarding structural equation modeling and her comments on the final draft of the manuscript, to Frederick Morrison and Joanne Carlisle for their keen insights regarding reading development, to Seung-Hee Son for advice on the models, and to Steve Telian for his ongoing support of this research. We thank the children and families who participated in this research and members of the cochlear implant team at University of Michigan for their help with data collection. We also thank Sara Hieber for her early work with the manuscript. An early version of this paper was presented at the Fifth International Cochlear Implant Conference, New York (October 1997), and parts of this study were presented at the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Atlanta, GA (November 2002).
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