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Single sided deafness affects language and auditory development – a case control study

Abstract

Objectives

To examine auditory, linguistic and cognitive outcomes of children with single sided deafness (SSD). An increasing body of research suggests that children with SSD lag behind with respect to their normal hearing (NH) peers. In the present study we tap into certain developmental skills.

Design

Case–control study.

Participants

21 children with SSD between 5 and 15 years of age participated. Per child with SSD two NH control children were matched on age and gender.

Outcome measures

Morphology, syntax and vocabulary were examined and performance was assessed in depth by focusing on sub skills and type of errors made. Furthermore, tests of short term and working memory were conducted and aspects of hearing disability were assessed by means of the speech spatial and qualities of hearing questionnaire (SSQ).

Main results

The children with SSD lagged behind in their scores on the three language tests and showed some differences to the NH group concerning type of errors and difficulty of the several subskills. Furthermore, scores on the SSQ indicated that in daily life, the children with SSD experience problems in spatial hearing and in understanding speech in noisy situations, and that the effort they have to put into listening and in understanding speech is considerably greater than in NH children.

Conclusions

The present study showed differences between children with SSD and NH children on several language skills and on auditory behavior. Possibly, early intervention could prevent such language difficulties and minimize problems with spatial hearing and speech understanding.

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