Impact of Siblings on Pragmatic Development in Children with Cochlear Implants

Citlin R. McAfee, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


The purpose of this study was to investigate the development of pragmatics in young children who have received cochlear implants (CI). There are limited studies that focus specifically on the pragmatic development of these children. This led to the questions of this study that focused on the development of early pragmatics and the possible role of older siblings on this development. Three children and their families participated in this study, one with bilateral cochlear implants, one with a unilateral implant, and one with hearing aids in both ears (who was a cochlear implant candidate). The child with bilateral cochlear implants had an older sibling while the others did not. Data was collected using a developmental questionnaire, the MacArthur Bates Vocabulary Inventory, and 30 minute video recordings of two target activities that required age-appropriate play and demand cooperation between the child with the researcher and a familiar other. The results of this study seemed to both support and refute what was expected about language development in children born with significant hearing loss. Specifically, a younger age of implantation does not necessarily facilitate better language development specifically in the areas of understanding and producing spoken language even if these lag behind age peers. On the other hand, all of the children in this study exhibited age appropriate early pragmatic skills when these were coded for non-verbal and vocal means of communication and therefore, had better pragmatics regardless of implantation status.