Objectives: The provision of hearing aids (HAs) has become standard practice for children with hearing loss; however, there have been few empirical studies evaluating the effectiveness of this practice on language development for children with cochlear implants (CIs). This study investigated the contribution of early HA use before implantation to receptive vocabulary and phonological processing skills in children with CIs. Methods: A total of forty children with CIs ranging from 4 to 6 years old participated in this study. The children were separated into two groups based on age at onset of HA use: early HA fitting group (before 6 months of age) and late HA fitting group (between 6 and 24 months of age). All children completed the receptive vocabulary and three phonological processing tasks. Results: Age at onset of individual HA use had negative partial correlation with receptive vocabulary scores and phonological awareness scores when controlling for age at implantation in all children with CIs. The early HA fitting group significantly outperformed the late HA fitting group on the receptive vocabulary task. The early HA fitting group showed significantly better performance than the late HA fitting group on all three phonological processing tasks. Both age at onset of HA use and age at implantation were significant predictors of receptive vocabulary scores in children with CIs. Conclusion: Age at onset of HA use, as indexed by the early auditory experience before implantation, may positively influence the receptive vocabulary and phonological processing skills in children with CIs.
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- Cochlear implant
- Hearing aids
- Phonological processing skills
- Receptive vocabulary skills