Prelinguistic Vocal Development in Young Cochlear Implant Recipients and Typically Developing Infants: Year 1 of Robust Hearing Experience
This investigation examined the time course and sequence of prelinguistic vocal development during the first year of cochlear implant (CI) experience. Thirteen children who were implanted between 8 and 35 months and 11 typically developing (TD) infants participated in this longitudinal study. Adult–child play interactions were video- and audio-recorded at trimonthly intervals for each group, and child utterances were classified into categories representing progressively more mature productions: Precanonical Vocalizations, Basic Canonical Syllables, and Advanced Form vocalizations. Young CI recipients met the 20% criterion for establishment of the Basic Canonical Syllables and Advanced Forms levels with fewer months of robust hearing experience than the TD infants. Most CI recipients followed the sequence of development predicted by the Stark Assessment of Early Vocal Development—Revised. The relatively rapid progress of the CI children suggests that an earlier period of auditory deprivation did not have negative consequences for prelinguistic vocal development. It also supports the notion that young CI recipients comparatively advanced maturity facilitated expeditious auditory-guided speech development.