Oral Communication Development in Severe to Profound Hearing Impaired Children After Receiving Aural Habilitation
Communication, cognition, language, and speech are interrelated and develop together. It should come as no surprise to us that the key to intervention with deaf children is to establish, as early as possible, a functional communication system for the child and the parents. Early intervention programs need to be multidisciplinary, technologically sound and most important, it should take cognizance of the specific context (community, country) in which the child and family function. The main aim of this study was to obtain oral communication development regarding current status of the intervention (aural habilitation and speech therapy)for children with severe to profound hearing impairment in Iran. A prospective longitudinal study was undertaken on a consecutive group of children with severe to profound deafness. Nine severe to profound hearing-impaired children out of the primer 42 cases, who were detected below two years old, had been selected in the previous study to receive aural habilitation. The average of their speech intelligibility scores was near 70% at age 6, which was accounted as poor oral communication and only two of them were able to communicate by spoken language. An integrated intervention services continued again for one year and their oral communication skill was assessed by their speech intelligibility. The intelligibility test of children was recorded on audio-tape, when they read 10 questions such as where is your home. This can be answered only in one word. Each tape was presented to10 normal hearing listeners, and their task was to write down, the answers in Persian orthography. At the beginning (at age 6) the average speech intelligibility score of these children was 72% and only two of them had score of 90% and 100%. At age 7, all of the severe groups were over 90%, and only two profound ones achieved the score of 48% and 62%. All of severe groups develop oral communication, but profound ones had a semi-intelligible speech and used Total communication. Oral communication development in severe to profound hearing impaired children is achievable in Iran, but needs integrated public services on aural habilitation and speech therapy. By providing such services, a considerable number of hearing impaired children would have a favorable chance to take part in regular schools and benefit from equivalent social development with normal hearing peers.
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