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Early Intervention Techniques for Language Development

​​​Efficacy of an Early Intervention Addressing the Needs of Children with Hearing Loss

​Principal Investigator: Sophie Ambrose, Ph.D.

Communication-Development-Lab-Photo.jpgChildren with hearing loss are at risk for significant delays in language development, with possible cascading effects on academic, social, and employment outcomes. This risk is a result of the difficulty they have accessing spoken language in their environments. To reduce this risk, children need to use well-fit hearing aids or cochlear implants and be engaged in social interactions that support their unique learning needs.

Unfortunately, research indicates that consistent use of hearing devices is hard to establish for infants and toddlers. Additionally, most parents need coaching to learn how to address the unique learning challenges their children with hearing loss face.

The long-term objective of Dr. Ambrose's program of research is to develop evidence-based intervention techniques that can be utilized in the field to reduce the risk presented by hearing loss to children's language development. As part of her COBRE project, Dr. Ambrose and her team have developed two interventions to support parents in optimizing their children's outcomes.

Ears On Addresses Consistent Hearing Device Use

The first intervention, Ears On, addresses the barriers parents face in their efforts to develop consistent hearing device use.  The research team recently completed an investigation of the effectiveness of the intervention utilizing a single case research design. The results indicate Ears On has promise for improving device use for infants and toddlers. Additional investigations of the intervention's effectiveness are planned and will include testing two delivery models with use of randomized controlled trials: in home and telehealth.

Helping Caregivers Facilitate Language Development in Children

The second intervention, Caregivers Optimizing Achievement of Children with Hearing Loss (COACH), was designed to increase caregiver responsiveness and provide caregivers with techniques to use during interactions with their child that will facilitate their child's language development. This intervention is an adaptation of Enhanced Milieu Teaching (Kaiser 1993), which is a set of naturalistic evidence-based techniques that have been effective in supporting the language development of young children with a variety of language learning needs. The effectiveness of the COACH intervention is currently being tested with use of a single case research design. Future plans include testing the intervention through use of a randomized controlled trial.​