The concept of neural plasticity and the early natural abilities of hearing children to acquire speech and language without instruction have led many authorities to advocate cochlear implantation before the age of 5 years in congenital deafness. Older children therefore become lower priority for scarce public funds because they are perceived to have passed the “window of opportunity” to learn speech, even if hearing is restored, and continue to rely on sign language.
This paper shows that a subgroup of congenitally deaf children exists, who, having made good progress with conventional hearing aids, suffer a sudden or progressive hearing deterioration which arrests the speech development.
Sixty children have been implanted in the Cambridge Programme, half for meningitis or other acquired losses and half for congenital prelingual deafness. Six of this latter group were congenital but progressive; their progress, deterioration, and improvement after implantation are summarised.
- cochlear implant
- hearing loss
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