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Modelling the early expressive communicative trajectories of infants/toddlers with early cochlear implants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2020

Edith L BAVIN*
School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia
Department of Audiology & Speech Pathology, The University of Melbourne, Australia
Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia Parenting Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Juniper Gardens Children's Project, University of Kansas, USA
Department of Psychology, University of California, Merced, CA, USA
Elizabeth BUTTON
School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Department of Audiology & Speech Pathology, The University of Melbourne, Australia
RIDBC Renwick Centre, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Sydney, Australia Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
*Corresponding author: School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne3083, Australia. Phone: +61 3 9479 2530; E-mail:


For children with normal hearing (NH), early communication skills predict vocabulary, a precursor to grammar. Growth in early communication skills of infants with cochlear implants (CIs) was investigated using the Early Communication Indicator (ECI), a play-based observation measure. Multilevel linear growth modelling on data from six ECI sessions held at three-monthly intervals revealed significant growth overall, with a non-significant slower growth rate than that of children with NH (comparison age centred at 18 months). Analyses of gesture use and of nonword vocalisations revealed the CI group used significantly more of each, with more rapid growth. In contrast, the CI group used significantly fewer single words and multiword utterances, and with slower growth. Maternal education and time to achieve consistent CI use impacted significantly on growth for the CI sample. The results indicate that progression to vocabulary by young CI users can be supported by encouraging their use of prelinguistic communication.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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