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Hearing-Impaired Children Under Age 6:1977 & 1984 Arthur Schüdmth 'he Annual Survey of Hearing Impaired Children and Youth from its inception has collected information on children and youth of all ages. The large majority of those reported to the survey have been students in elementary and secondary schools, that is, children and youth between the ages of 6 and 18. However, a considerable number of preschool children, those under 6 years of age, have also been reported to the survey over the years. These children, because of the critical importance of this early period, are of special interest to educators and researchers. The focus of this article is on children in this age group from birth through age 5 years who have been reported to the Annual Survey by the schools or agencies serving them during the 1976-77 and 1983-84 school years. Those two school years were chosen for examination because they contain the two latest survey groups which do not overlap, i.e. the two school years represent two distinct groups of children under the age of 6. The article will examine these two groups for similarities and differences in certain characteristics reported to the Annual Survey: age, ethnic background, cause of hearing loss, and handicaps in addition to hearing impairment . Participation in the Annual Survey by schools and programs serving hearing-impaired students greatly expanded in the years between 1977 and 1984. In 1977 there were 3,673 individual schools and programs reporting information on children of all ages to the survey. By the 1983-84 school year, that number had risen to 8,270 schools or other type agencies (e.g., parent-infant programs). The number of programs reporting data to the Annual Survey more than doubled in each of the four Bureau of the Census regions. This large increase in the number of programs over the 6year period undoubtedly indicated, in addition to better Annual Survey coverage, the influence of P.L. 94-142. However , due to the large increase in the number of schools reporting children to the survey, differences in either the numbers or characteristics of the children reported in 1976-77 and in 1983-84 do not necessarily represent trends in the strict sense of that word. More children under 6 were reported to the Annual Survey in 1984 than in 1977 probably because survey coverage was better in 1984. These data do indicate, however, that some subtle changes have occurred in the programs enrolling hearing-impaired children under age 6 across the country. Certain of these changes are so pronounced and so cohesive with other data from the Annual Survey (Brown, in press) and with general U.S. national and regional data (Bureau of the Census, 1985) that they may well be predictors for hearing-impaired school-age population trends for the near future. In order to make the comparison between the two groups of students in 1977 and 1984 more exact, it was decided to select only those schools and programs that reported data on hearing-impaired children under 6 to the Annual Survey in both school years—a total of 178 schools, school districts, or special programs. This, of course, reduces the number of children for the analysis, but it has the advantage of comparing two distinct groups of children under age 6 from exactly the same schools or special programs 7 years apart. This selected data base of 178 schools and programs represents almost 5% of the total programs reporting to the annual survey in 1977 and slightly over 2% of the 1984 reporting programs. The total child count reported in 1977 was 53,560 compared with 53,184 in 1984. Thus, the children reported in the 178 schools and programs targeted for discussion here represent 3.8% of the total 1977 annual survey population and 4.5% of the 1984 population. AGE Table 1 indicates that the number of hearing-impaired children under age 6 in the targeted schools and programs increased by almost 18% between 1977 and 1984. The increase was relatively large in the South (29%) and moderate in the Northeast (17%) and Midwest (12%); the western programs reported the smallest percentage increase...


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