Title: 'Language Development Challenges with Medically Complex Children'
Track: 3 - Language Acquisition and Development
Keyword(s): Language Delay, Early Intervention, Medically Complex, Family Experience
Learning Objectives:
  1. To identify the Language Development needs of the medically complex child so that these needs can be met through attention and or alternative methods.
  2. Inform parents and the professionals of the importance of early language acquisition and development as an integral component of whole child development.
  3. To offer strategies, tips, and techniques from both a parent of a deaf and medically complex child perspective, as well as, from a professional platform.


When language collides with experience learning happens. For young children this happens through participating in a variety of activities. The first participation from birth is a child’s connection and bonding to their mother through nursing or bottle-feeding. This activity repeats when the child communicates through crying (Rudolph, 1994, p. S117). As time passes, the language builds from crying to words. For young children, food and the activities surrounding or immediately a part of eating is a vehicle that builds vocabulary acquisition and development. Without food as a routine opportunity for a child to interact with their environment, the likelihood of a language delay increases in probability. This ethnographic qualitative research study evaluated the home environments of tube fed preschool aged children in order to document the impact tube feeding may have on language development. Each of the families selected to participate have children with language delays documented on their IEP/IFSP. The results showed a similarity to what we experienced rearing our tube-fed child. The analysis suggests that tube feeding can profoundly affect a child’s exposure to traditional language rich opportunities normally centered on meals. Notably, many of the participant parents stated they wished they knew more about the connection and recognized the loss of language development for their child; moreover, several expressed the importance of this information for other parents and professionals serving children who are tube fed. Like our son, the medically complex child often struggles with hearing loss. Both issues, hearing loss and medical complexities, require different strategies, skills, and support in many areas including Language Development. We believe this information is a critical link in over-all quality improvement.
Presentation: Poster_RobertPorter_1620.pdf

Handouts: Handout is not Available
CART: CART Transcription is not Available
Robert Porter - Primary Presenter,Co-Presenter,Author,POC
Independent Researcher and Parent of a Medically Complex Deaf Child
     Credentials: BBA From Cambell University MBA from Franklin University EDD from Capella University
      Rob and Katey Porter are parents of a medically complex child that required them to think and act outside of the traditional box in order to meet his needs. Their son's language development was challenged because of his medical issues as well as his hearing loss. We started using sign language (ASL) and added oral language after bilateral cochlear implants at 4 years old. Today we follow a total communication strategy. Rob has his Doctorate in Education from Capella University and Katey is an M.A., CCC-SLP from Ohio State University. Collectively, we thought we were professionally ready to meet and serve our son's needs. However, it was a journey of ups and downs. Needless to say we learned a lot through experience and formal research. Our goal here is to talk about our research and share what we learned to help others.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.
Katherine Porter - Co-Presenter,Author
Ohio School for the Deaf Parent
     Credentials: MA - The Ohio State University BS - Saint Mary's University
     Other Affiliations: M.A.,SLP CCC
      Katherine has nearly 20 years of pediatric clinical experience from Columbus Children's Hospital and the largest primary school in Ohio: Fairborn Primary School in Fairborn Ohio. An outstanding expert in child language and speech development as well as the overall or holistic developmental needs of young children, Katey is also the mother of a deaf child. It's from this unique blend of professional and personal experience that makes her a sought after speaker. But more importantly, she has the heart of a mom who wants the best for her child. She can relate to the fears, frustrations, and challenges facing other parents. She knows the medical, pathological, educational, and policy issues facing other parents and providers. You will love her down to earth style and natural ability to make a path appear in the jungle.

Financial -

Nonfinancial -