Building Early Vocabulary in Kids With Hearing Loss How can clinicians effectively partner with parents to increase early vocabulary knowledge in children with hearing loss? Emily Lund is searching for answers. Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions  |   October 01, 2017
Building Early Vocabulary in Kids With Hearing Loss
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Article Information
Development / Hearing Disorders / Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions   |   October 01, 2017
Building Early Vocabulary in Kids With Hearing Loss
The ASHA Leader, October 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
The ASHA Leader, October 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
Name: Emily Lund, PhD, CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor, Davies School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Texas Christian University
ASHFoundation funding:
  • 2011 Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language Development

  • 2012 ASHA Research Travel Grant

  • 2012 New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship

  • 2015 New Investigators Research Grant

What is the focus of your research?
In my research, I think about spoken- and written-word learning in children with hearing loss. In other words, I think about the early stages of learning to use words and the early stages of learning to read words.
Although amplification technology and intervention practices have improved tremendously in the last decade, spoken and written language outcomes for children with hearing loss are notoriously variable. One of my lines of inquiry considers early behaviors and factors that influence the early stages of language learning. Understanding early learning—and intervention techniques that encourage early learning—could lead to better linguistic outcomes in children with hearing loss.
How did your ASHFoundation awards lead to your current work?
The awards I received from the ASHFoundation allowed me to conduct preliminary intervention studies. The Student Research Grant in Early Language Development funded my first intervention work, in which we assessed whether a direct word-learning training could increase the rate at which preschool children with hearing loss learned new words. The study did demonstrate that the children learned more words after participating in exercises that practiced the steps of word learning.
The New Investigators Research Grant allowed me to extend my intervention work to parent training: The study evaluated whether a short-term parent training could change parent behavior and, in turn, affect vocabulary growth in children with hearing loss. The study demonstrated that short-term training does change parent behavior, but that parents need continued review and support to maintain those changes. Parent changes in behavior led to some short-term changes in child vocabulary growth.
My current projects extend this work. I am exploring how we can teach the steps of clinician-directed vocabulary instruction to parents to use in home contexts throughout the day with children with hearing loss. Specifically, I have a study underway that considers the amount of support parents need to generalize vocabulary-teaching skills to new contexts and to maintain those changes.
What do you hope to demonstrate through your research—or what has it already demonstrated?
I hope to demonstrate ways that clinicians can most effectively partner with parents to increase the early vocabulary knowledge of children with hearing loss. If we can increase the vocabulary knowledge of children with hearing loss early in life, it may be possible to interrupt later cascading consequences of low vocabulary knowledge.
Why did you choose this particular research focus?
My background as a clinician informed this research focus. I have observed that one of the most difficult times for a family is waiting for a child with hearing loss to begin using language. I am interested in exploring ways to empower families to shorten the time between a child receiving access to sound and the child beginning to use spoken language.
How has ASHFoundation funding affected your professional life?
ASHFoundation funding has shaped my research career—receiving my first grant as a student allowed me to pursue a project that also provided me with training in the area of intervention research. The ASHFoundation then supported my participation in ASHA’s Lessons for Success program, which gave me the skills to successfully apply for federal funding. The New Investigator award extended my line of work into parent training, which has expanded my understanding of multi-level intervention research and provided me with preliminary data to support larger-scale intervention projects. I am grateful for the ASHFoundation and attribute my pursuit of clinically relevant projects to the support I have received.
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October 2017
Volume 22, Issue 10