Psychosocial development hinges on good language and functional performance: update on the LOCHI study (Outcomes Symposium paper 2)

Dr Cara Wong1,2,  Prof. Greg Leigh 1,3,4,  Dr Teresa YC Ching1,2, Prof. Linda Cupples1,4, Laura Button1,2, Vivienne Marnane1,

1HEARing CRC, Australia

2National Acoustic Laboratories, Australia,

3RIDBC Renwick Centre, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children

4Macquarie University

We propose a series of 4 papers to feature in a Symposium on Improving outcomes for children through early detection and intervention. All papers draw on data from the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study to shed light on children’s abilities and parents’ perspectives.

It has been widely acknowledged that children with hearing loss have higher rates of psychosocial problems compared to their hearing peers; including emotional, behavioural and social difficulties. The psychosocial functioning of 5-year-old children with hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs) have been explored in a population-based study that investigated factors influencing Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (the LOCHI study,

Methods. Parents of 333 children who participate in the LOCHI study completed questionnaires on their children’s emotional and behavioural problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), social skills development (Child Development Inventory), and functional auditory performance (Parent Evaluation of Aural/Oral performance of Children). Children completed standardized assessment of nonverbal cognitive ability and language ability (Pre-school Language Scale v4). Information about demographic and audiological characteristics was collected. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the influence of a range of predictors on psychosocial outcomes of children at age 5 years.

Results. On average, the children did not show evidence of emotional/behavioural problems; but scored more than 1SD below the norm on social skills and language ability. Regression analyses showed that non-verbal cognitive ability, language and functional auditory performance were significantly associated with psychosocial outcomes in children with HAs.  The presence of additional disabilities and functional auditory performance were significant predictors of psychosocial outcomes in children using CIs.

Conclusions. The findings suggest that early interventions targeted at not only language ability, but also the use of hearing in communicative situations in real-world environments are likely to benefit psychosocial development.


Greg Leigh is Director of RIDBC Renwick Centre for Research and Professional Education at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children in Sydney and conjointly Professor of Special Education at the University of Newcastle. He is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University. He serves on numerous Australian government consultative committees and on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education and Deafness and Education International. Since 2005 he has been Chair of the Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Committee. He is a former National President of the Education Commission for the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf and is Co-Chair of the International Committee of the International Congress on Education of the Deaf.