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Reading and Reading-Related Skills in Children Using Cochlear Implants: Prospects for the Influence of Cued Speech

Abstract We assessed the reading and reading-related skills (phonemic awareness and phonological short-term memory) of deaf children fitted with cochlear implants (CI), either exposed to cued speech early (before 2 years old) (CS+) or never (CS-). Their performance was compared to that of two hearing control groups, one matched for reading-level (RL) and one matched for chronological age (CA). Phonemic awareness and phonological short-term memory were assessed respectively through a phonemic similarity judgment task and through a word span task measuring phonological similarity effects. To assess the use of sublexical and lexical reading procedures, children read aloud pseudowords and irregular words. Results showed that cued speech improved performance on both the phonemic awareness and the reading tasks but not on the phonological short-term memory task. In phonemic awareness and reading, CS+ children obtained accuracy and rapidity scores similar to CA controls, whereas CS- children obtained lower scores than hearing controls. Nevertheless, in phonological short-term memory task, the phonological similarity effect of both CI groups was similar. Overall, these results support the use of cued speech to improve phonemic awareness and reading skills in CI children.



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