Is cochlear implantation useful for all profound hearing-impaired students?
Even at their best, cochlear implants do not change deaf children into hearing children, but they do help most children with profound hearing losses (in most countries, cochlear implants are available only to children with profound hearing loss). Importantly, there are large individual differences in outcomes among children who receive implants, and we are not very good at predicting outcomes for individual children. However, there are several factors that are associated with greater benefits:
• length of time since implantation (shorter is better)
• age at implantation (younger is better)
• degree of hearing loss (both in the implanted ear and the other ear)
• age at onset of hearing loss
• amount of language when hearing was lost
• parental support for the child and postimplant therapy
• children’s cognitive abilities, and
• the amount and types of postimplantation therapy received.
Some of these factors affect the level of performance achieved while others affect the speed of acquiring various skills, and both vary across children. An otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) and/or cochlear implant surgeon needs to give a child a complete examination before making specific recommendations and predictions of success. For more information, see Chapter 2 in Marschark, M. (2007). Raising and educating a deaf child, Second edition. New York: Oxford University Press.