Although cochlear implants improve the ability of profoundly deaf children to understand speech, critics claim that the published literature does not document even a single case of a child who has developed a linguistic system based on input from an implant. Thus, it is of clinical and scientific importance to determine whether cochlear implants facilitate the development of English language skills. The English language skills of prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants were measured before and after implantation. We found that the rate of language development after implantation exceeded that expected from unimplanted deaf children (p < .001) and was similar to that of children with normal hearing. Despite a large amount of individual variability, the best performers in the implanted group seem to be developing an oral linguistic system based largely on auditory input obtained from a cochlear implant.
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