Learning from the longitudinal outcomes of children with hearing impairment(LOCHI) study: summary of 5-year findings and implications
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This article summarises findings of the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study, and discusses implications of the findings for research and clinical practice. Design: A population-based study on outcomes of children with hearing loss. Evaluations were conducted at five years of age. Study sample: Participants were 470 children born with hearing loss between 2002 and 2007 in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in Australia, and who first received amplification or cochlear implantation by three years of age. Results: The earlier hearing aids or cochlear implants were fitted, the better the speech, language and functional performance outcomes. Better speech perception was also associated with better language and higher cognitive abilities. Better psychosocial development was associated with better language and functional performance. Higher maternal education level was also associated with better outcomes. Qualitative analyses of parental perspectives revealed the multiple facets of their involvement in intervention. Conclusions: The LOCHI study has shown that early fitting of hearing devices is key to achieving better speech, language and functional performance outcomes for children with hearing loss. The findings are discussed in relation to changes in clinical practice and directions for future research.