Speech production changes were examined in 24 profoundly hearing-impaired children following implantation with the CLARION Multi-Strategy Cochlear Implant. All study participants were implanted below the age of 6, and with 1 exception, the children were congenitally deaf, with little or no auditory experience prior to implantation. A within-subjects design was used in which the children's preoperative speech skills with hearing aids were compared to postoperative performance with the Clarion after 3 and 6 months of implant use. Production skills were evaluated with a measure designed specifically to assess hearing-impaired children's spontaneous use of early developing phonological patterns in words. The results revealed significant improvement over time in 8 of the 9 speech features examined. The greatest improvement occurred between the 3- and 6-month postoperative intervals, with more limited improvement evident between the preimplant and 3-month time periods. The results demonstrate that significant improvements occur in speech production skills in very young children with congenital deafness after they have used current implant technology for a relatively limited amount of time.
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