Fast ForWord and Cochlear Implants

Children who experience a hearing loss for whatever reason during their early years often also develop difficulties related to language and processing of auditory information. This is because the regions of the brain associated with these skills are not used for a period of time. As a result, the sophisticated neural pathways observed in students who are proficient in the language and auditory processing skills still need to be developed by students who experienced hearing loss. Fortunately, according to the principle of brain plasticity, this is not only possible but highly probable with the right intervention methods. A study on the effects of Fast ForWord training on students who had received cochlear implants following a period of hearing loss is described below.

Eleven students aged 4 – 11 years who had recently undergone successful cochlear implants participated in this study. All the students presented with language and auditory processing deficits which could be attributed to their hearing loss. The students were presented with various standardised tests measuring language and auditory processing ability including the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-3), Test of Auditory Perceptual Skills-Revised (TAPS-R), the Token Test for Children, the Assessment of Children’s Language Comprehension (ACLC), the Phonological Awareness Test (PhAT).

The study showed consistent benefits on these 5 standardised measures of language and auditory processing. In addition to these objective measures, parents were asked to complete a 45-item survey of perceived changes in communication skills after training on the Fast ForWord program. An improvement was noted on 83% of the survey items.