Two groups of children were compared in order to determine the effect on language and speech development of the fluctuating conductive hearing loss which accompanies chronic otitis media. The experimental group consisted of 16 children, aged 5 to 9 years, with chronic otitis media and with hearing fluctuations documented by audiograms. The control group was matched for age, sex, and socioeconomic background. The language performances of the groups were compared by means of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, the Templin-Darley Picture Articulation Screening Test, and the Mecham Verbal Language Development Scale. The result shows that the experimental group was delayed to a statistically significant degree in all language skills requiring the receiving or processing of auditory stimuli or the production of verbal responses. No significant differences were found in tests measuring primarily visual and motor skills. This would suggest that the fluctuating hearing loss accompanying chronic otitis media was the cause of the delay in language development found in the experimental group. Physicians, parents, and educators need to be aware of the implication of this language handicap, as it might affect performance. Further studies are needed to evaluate the influence on permanent language ability by the periodic lack of sensory stimulation experienced during conductive hearing loss due to frequent episodes of otitis media.
- Received August 30, 1968.
- Accepted December 27, 1968.
- Copyright © 1969 by the American Academy of Pediatrics