Exploring the Functional Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss in Singapore

Project Number
OER 04/14 RB

Project Duration
June 2014 - December 2017

Status
In-Progress

Abstract
The presence of a hearing loss (HL) is a risk factor for language development, interpersonal and intrapersonal communication, thought processes, learning, social inclusion, employability, and ultimately, quality of life. Recent studies on the prevalence of HL in Singapore have ascertained that it can be considered as one of the common congenital disabilities, with approximately 3.7 per 1,000 newborns diagnosed with HL. In 2001, Low et al reported on the costs and educational outcomes associated with HL in Singapore, but HL is viewed as a disability with multifaceted consequences on whole child development, and therefore a broader consideration of the holistic developmental outcomes is required. Furthermore, since this time the introduction of a Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) in Singapore has resulted in more children identified and intervened for HL at a younger age. The ultimate purpose of a UNHS programme is to reduce the negative outcome for children with HL and to red uce the societal and economic burden of HL in Singapore, and whilst published research shows that there are benefits from early identification and intervention, many children with HL still perform more poorly than their hearing peers in a wide range of development outcomes. The 2002 and 2003 cohorts from the screening programme are now 10 and 11 years of age and will be taking the primary school leaving examinations in 2014 and 2015. This is an excellent opportunity to gain information on the long-term functional outcomes in this cohort, and to gain information on the factors that are predictive of individual differences in long-term outcomes. Children born in 2002 and 2003 and identified with congenital HL will be invited to participate. We will collect information of a range of child outcomes including academic performance (PSLE scores), executive functioning, socio-emotional functioning and quality of life, non-verbal cognition, language, literacy, and motor/physical skills. We will also collect data from parents regarding support services received by the child and their satisfaction with those services, and parental stress, and expectations of their child. This information, together with information about the hearing loss (e.g., age of diagnosis, age of intervention, type of intervention, educational placement) and basic socio-demographic data, will be used to examine factors that may predict child outcomes. Analysis of child outcomes will be conducted in comparison to nationally collected data (for PSLE) or age norms (for standardized tests). Data collected from this study will provide the first indication on whether the early diagnosis and intervention of HL for children in Singapore results in more positive outcomes for children, or whether there are other factors that result in more successful long-term outcomes for some HL children compared to others.

Funding Source
NIE

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