Original Research

Communication and school readiness abilities of children with hearing impairment in South Africa: A retrospective review of early intervention preschool records

Ntsako P. Maluleke, Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Amisha Kanji
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 66, No 1 | a604 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v66i1.604 | © 2019 Ntsako P. Maluleke, Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Amisha Kanji | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 June 2018 | Published: 28 February 2019

About the author(s)

Ntsako P. Maluleke, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Health Care Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa
Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Amisha Kanji, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The national prevalence of hearing impairment in South Africa is estimated to be four to six in every 1000 live births in the public health care sector. An undetected hearing impairment in childhood can lead to delayed speech and language development as well as put the child at risk of not achieving the necessary school readiness abilities that will enable them to achieve academic success. However, through early hearing detection and intervention services, children with hearing impairment can develop communication and school readiness abilities on par with children with normal hearing.

Objective: The aim of the study was to describe communication and school readiness abilities of children who were identified with hearing impairment and enrolled in early intervention (EI) preschools in Gauteng.

Methods: Within a descriptive research study design, a retrospective record review was conducted on files of eight children, ranging in age from 9 years and 7 months to 12 years and 7 months, identified with a hearing impairment and enrolled in EI preschools in Gauteng, South Africa. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data, using frequency distribution and measures of central tendency.

Results: Current findings revealed that children with hearing impairment who were enrolled in EI preschools in Gauteng were identified late. This consequently led to delayed ages at initiation of EI services when compared to international benchmarks and the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) guidelines of 2018. Consequently, participants presented with below average communication and school readiness abilities, which are characteristic of hearing impairment that is identified late.

Conclusions: Transference of current contextually relevant research findings into practice by both the Department of Health and the Department of Basic Education forms part of future directions from this study. This conversion of research findings into service delivery must be conducted in a systematic manner at all levels in these two sectors to facilitate achievement of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI), resulting in better communication and school readiness outcomes.


Keywords

Communication; school readiness; early intervention; EHDI

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