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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Newborn hearing screening programs and early diagnosis allow deaf children to receive hearing aids and/or cochlear implants very early in life. However, even within these early intervention scenarios, deaf children remain at risk of delays in spoken language acquisition despite what is expected based on their hearing recovery scores. The first part of this chapter offers an overview of recent studies on the role of specific factors (i.e., age at diagnosis, age at cochlear implant activation, family environment, and exposure to sign language) in affecting communicative and linguistic development. The second part examines to what extent current cognitive neuroscience research is contributing to refinement of the concept of critical or sensitive periods for the development of the acoustic system and language in deaf children. Clinical and educational implications for promoting language development in deaf children are discussed.

Keywords: cochlear implant, language development, family environment, sign language, critical period, neuroplasticity

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