Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Susan Loveall-Hague

Relational Format



Purpose: Although hearing loss (HL) is prevalent in individuals with Down syndrome (DS), there has been little research investigating the effects of HL on language and literacy skills in this population. The purpose of this study is to document the frequency of HL in DS, as well as language and literacy outcomes, and to determine if there is a difference in language and literacy outcomes for children with DS with HL and those without HL. Parental knowledge of HL and language development was also measured. Method: A five-part survey was distributed to 77 members of DS-Connect, a National Institute of Health registry of parents and families with an individual with DS, targeting those with a child with DS between the ages of 5 and 10. The survey measured participants' demographics, experience with ENTs and audiologists, experience with Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), knowledge on HL and hearing health, and child's language and literacy skills. Results: Results indicated a high prevalence (48%) of HL in DS. However, the data indicated no difference in language and literacy outcomes for individuals with DS with HL and those without HL. Further, parents were generally knowledgeable regarding the signs of HL and items that can cause harm to the hearing system. Discussion: Our results are consistent with previous research suggesting high rates of HL in DS, indicating early assessment and intervention is important for this population. However, the lack of differences in language and literacy outcomes between those with and without HL paired with the reported regular audiology checkups suggests that not only are individuals with DS with HL being identified and treated early, HL is not negatively impacting their communication outcomes. However, these results should be interpreted with some caution as we do not have a measure of the severity of HL, which could compact the results. Finally, parent knowledge of HL appears sufficient and may be tied to their experiences with ENTs and audiologists.

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