Nonword Repetition in Children With Cochlear Implants: A Potential Clinical Marker of Poor Language Acquisition Purpose Cochlear implants (CIs) can facilitate the acquisition of spoken language for deaf children, but challenges remain. Language skills dependent on phonological sensitivity are most at risk for these children, so having an effective way to diagnose problems at this level would be of value for school speech-language pathologists. The ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2014
Nonword Repetition in Children With Cochlear Implants: A Potential Clinical Marker of Poor Language Acquisition
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan Nittrouer
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Amanda Caldwell-Tarr
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Emily Sansom
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Jill Twersky
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Joanna H. Lowenstein
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Disclosure Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Susan Nittrouer: nittrouer.1@osu.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Carol Miller
    Associate Editor: Carol Miller×
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2014
Nonword Repetition in Children With Cochlear Implants: A Potential Clinical Marker of Poor Language Acquisition
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2014, Vol. 23, 679-695. doi:10.1044/2014_AJSLP-14-0040
History: Received March 16, 2014 , Revised July 3, 2014 , Accepted August 25, 2014
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2014, Vol. 23, 679-695. doi:10.1044/2014_AJSLP-14-0040
History: Received March 16, 2014; Revised July 3, 2014; Accepted August 25, 2014

Purpose Cochlear implants (CIs) can facilitate the acquisition of spoken language for deaf children, but challenges remain. Language skills dependent on phonological sensitivity are most at risk for these children, so having an effective way to diagnose problems at this level would be of value for school speech-language pathologists. The goal of this study was to assess whether a nonword repetition (NWR) task could serve that purpose.

Method Participants were 104 second graders: 49 with normal hearing (NH) and 55 with CIs. In addition to NWR, children were tested on 10 measures involving phonological awareness and processing, serial recall of words, vocabulary, reading, and grammar.

Results Children with CIs performed more poorly than children with NH on NWR, and sensitivity to phonological structure alone explained that performance for children in both groups. For children with CIs, 2 audiological factors positively influenced outcomes on NWR: being identified with hearing loss at a younger age and having experience with wearing a hearing aid on the unimplanted ear at the time of receiving a 1st CI. NWR scores were better able to rule out than to rule in such language deficits.

Conclusions Well-designed NWR tasks could have clinical utility in assessments of language acquisition for school-age children with CIs.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC006237. We thank Chelsea Bates, Keri Low, and Caitlin Rice for their help in scoring and Aaron C. Moberly for his comments on an earlier version of this article.
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