• cochlear implant;
  • communication;
  • deaf;
  • inclusion;
  • mainstream school;
  • social relationships



Few research studies have examined longitudinal improvements in oral communication skills and quality of peer relationships of children with implants. Moreover, although the emerging literature suggests that improvement in social functioning follows improvement in oral communication, it is still unknown what factors enhance or impede the relations between these constructs.


Based on parent interviews, the current study examined the long-term improvements in speech and oral language skills and relationships with hearing peers in 19 implanted children.


Results demonstrate that on average, children continue to improve in oral communication skills and quality of peer relationships even years after implantation, especially those with initial poorer skills. While oral communication ability and quality of peer relationships are strongly associated at each time point, gains in these two variables are associated only for some of the children. Other factors, including self-confidence and peer acceptance, seem to moderate this relationship. Qualitative data are presented to illustrate these relations among variables and to assist in theory building.


The results highlight the need for more specific examination of various developmental periods in combination with the progress of oral communication and peer relationships among children with implants.