Conversational fluency of children who use cochlear implants

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39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Children who have significant hearing loss often experience difficulty in engaging in everyday conversations. They may spend an inordinate amount of time in communication breakdown or in silence. The purpose of the present investigation was to assess the oral conversation fluency of young cochlear implant users using both objective and subjective measuring procedures. Conversational fluency relates to how smoothly a conversation unfolds. The children's performance was compared with that of children who have normal hearing, and related to other measures of communication skill and other child variables. Design: One hundred eighty-one cochlear implant users and 24 children with normal hearing engaged in conversations with a clinician, using an oral mode of communication. Audio-video tapes of the conversations were analyzed to yield the following measures: percent of time the child and clinician spent trying to repair a breakdown in communication, percent of time the two spent sitting in silence, and the ratio between the amount of time the child spoke and the amount of time the clinician spoke. In addition, for the cochlear implant users, 10 judges viewed excerpts of the tapes and gave their impressions and reactions to the children and their conversations, using five-point rating scales. The objective and subjective measures were related to the children's speech intelligibility, mean length utterance, and speech recognition in both an auditory-only and auditory-plus-vision condition. Results: The cochlear implant users spent significantly more time in communication breakdown and in silence than the children with normal hearing, and children who are in an educational placement that emphasizes oral communication spent less time in breakdown than children who are in educational placement that use both speech and sign. Speech intelligibility and receptive language were the best predictors of communication breakdown. Judges perceived children who spent less time in communication breakdown more favorably than children who spent more time, and reacted to them more positively. Finally, there was a high correlation between the subjective measures of the conversation and the objective measures. Conclusions: Educational programs should provide explicit instruction to promote conversational fluency. The results show a need for communication therapy, and suggest that the children will be perceived and reacted to more favorably if they learn how to manage communication difficulties. The results also support the need for extensive speech-language therapy for these children. The objective measures employed in this investigation appear to be a valid and useful means for assessing conversational fluency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82S-89S
JournalEar and hearing
Volume24
Issue number1 SUPPL.
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2003

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