The Acquisition Of Spoken Language In Deaf Children

2203 words - 9 pages

What makes us human is our ability to use language to communicate with the world around us. The capability to produce novel and complex sentences is a skill that every child learns if the conditions allow him or her to do so. What is most amazing about this is that children gain this capability in such a short amount of time. Within 5 years of life humans use the linguistic input of the world around them to produce novel ideas and thoughts. Regardless of where or how one lives, the process of acquiring language is often predictable. There are about 7000 languages spoken in the world today and infants can acquire any of them if exposed to enough linguistic input. This process is disrupted ...view middle of the document...

If a family has little knowledge about deaf people they must first adjust to the implications of having a deaf or hard of hearing child. Since parents are a child’s main source of linguistic information, the challenge they must overcome is giving the child sufficient experience with listening and speaking to gain knowledge of sound structure (Spencer & Marschark, 2006). Inadequate quality of sounds leaves babies at risk. A hearing child makes large strides in their language at a very rapid rate without the need for explicit teaching. This is a phenomenon that is impressive at any age, but especially for newborn infants who have had no prior exposure to human language. A deaf child will not make these same strides if they are deprived of language. If a child has hearing loss at birth they will never gain the linguistic capabilities to rely on lip-reading as they get older, which is why addition aid must be provided. This is different for an adult who experiences hearing loss because adults have full knowledge of the patterns in their language and are able to fill in the gaps that a hearing loss creates. Years ago it was found that hearing loss in children was not recognized, on average, till after 24 months of age in the United States. This average has changed due to early detection and intervention programs. Now children are screened for hearing loss thresholds at birth. It’s important to keep in mind that a deficit in hearing loss creates a kind of “ snowball effect”. Hearing loss leads to deficit in literacy when the child enters school because one must have knowledge of the sounds they are speaking if they are to learn how to read and spell them (Spencer & Marschark, 2006). In a discussion of why deaf children do not acquire language normally it is necessary to mention the critical period of language. The critical period refers to the time after a child is born to about 3 years of age in which a child is most sensitive to acquiring language. Children will acquire whatever language is accessible to them during this period and eventually their brains loose this plasticity (Humphries, Kushalnagar, Mathur, Napoli, Padden, Pathmann, & Smith, 2012). Once this period has passed a child will never develop their first language normally and to its full capacity.
Now that it has been described why a deaf child cannot acquire language normally, we may look at the causes of hearing loss in children. Sensor neural hearing loss is the most common birth defect, effects 2-3 out of every 1000 births. Also, by school age 6-7 out of every 100 children will have a permanent hearing loss (Humphries, Kushalnagar, Mathur, Napoli, Padden, Pathmann, & Smith, 2012). The most common cause of hearing loss is genetics. This is the case more than 60% of the time. Other risk factors of hearing loss for children are family history as well as low birth weight. Genetic disorders as well as drugs that cause ototoxicity. Problems can arise from the middle, inner, or outer ear,...

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