The impact of hearing loss on the development of gesture use
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] In hearing infants, gesture use has been linked with later language development. Therefore, it is crucial to understand similarities and differences in gesture use in infants with hearing loss as compared to hearing infants. The goal of this study was to investigate gesture development in infants with profound hearing loss before and after they received cochlear implants. Participants included 16 infants with profound hearing loss and 27 infants with hearing thresholds within normal limits. Infants were tested before and/or after 12 months of age as follows: 11 infants with profound hearing loss and 15 infants with hearing within normal limits were tested at 8 to 11 months of age, and 13 infants with cochlear implants and 18 infants with hearing within normal limits were tested at 13 to 22 months of age. Gestures types examined included, deictic gestures (e.g., pointing, requesting, showing, and giving), head nods (indicating yes or no), conventional gestures (e.g., waving and manual signs), and gestures indicating refusal. Frequency of gesture use and use of gestures in combination with vocalization were analyzed. Results indicated that infants with hearing loss and hearing infants ages 8 to 11 months of age used similar amounts of gestures, whereas infants with hearing loss used fewer gestures than hearing infants ages 13 to 22 months of age.
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