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Identifying Developmental Language Disorder in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants: A Case Study of Three Children

Hardman, G., Herman, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-5732-9999, Kyle, F. E. ORCID: 0000-0003-2997-3167 , Ebbels, S. & Morgan, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-9495-1274 (2023). Identifying Developmental Language Disorder in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants: A Case Study of Three Children. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 12(17), article number 5755. doi: 10.3390/jcm12175755


(1) Background: While spoken language learning delays are assumed for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children after cochlear implant (CI), many catch up with their hearing peers. Some DHH children with CIs, however, show persistent delays in language, despite protective factors being in place. This suggests a developmental language disorder (DLD). However, at present there is little consensus on how to diagnose DLD in DHH children. (2) Methods: Given the lack of consensus in this area, a set of case studies provides an appropriate first step. The goal of this paper is to show the plausibility of a DLD diagnosis, following careful analysis of protective and risk factors. A retrospective case study review was conducted for three children. Their long-term language outcomes up to four years after CI were considered in the context of access to sound, speech sound discrimination, social skills and non-verbal cognition. (3) Results: It was possible to posit DLD in one child who had experienced good access to sound, alongside good speech discrimination abilities and social development, and normal non-verbal cognition, but who presented with severe language learning difficulties. (4) Conclusions: Finding markers for DLD in DHH children is important for diagnosis and intervention. The implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Publisher Keywords: children; deaf; developmental language disorder; language development; cochlear implant; variability; protective and risk factors
Subjects: R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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