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J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2015 Apr;20(2):115-24. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enu040. Epub 2014 Dec 10.

Comparisons of social competence in young children with and without hearing loss: a dynamic systems framework.

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University of Miami and
University of Miami and.
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.


This study compared levels of social competence and language development in 74 young children with hearing loss and 38 hearing peers aged 2.5-5.3 years. This study was the first to examine the relationship between oral language and social competence using a dynamic systems framework in children with and without hearing loss. We hypothesized that, due to deficits in oral language, children who were deaf would display lower levels of social competence than their hearing peers. Furthermore, language age would predict social competence scores. Social competence was measured with a general and deaf-specific measure. Results showed that children with hearing loss performed significantly worse than hearing peers on the general measure but better than the norms on the deaf-specific measure. Controlling for maternal education and income, regression analyses indicated that hearing status and language age predicted social competence in both groups. Among children with hearing loss, correlations were also found between age at diagnosis, age at amplification, and two of the general social competence measures. Results supported our hypothesis that deficits in language would have cascading negative effects on the development of social competence in young deaf children. Development of early intervention programs that target both language and social skills are needed for this population.

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