Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Tammy Barry

Advisor Department



The current study examined the relation among status regarding placement of pressure equalization tubes (PET), expressive language, receptive language, and social skills in children with Down syndrome. Previous research has documented the importance of PET placement for children with Down syndrome who suffer from chronic otitis media during the critical developmental period for language —not only to treat ear infections but also to prevent permanent damage leading to hearing loss. For the current study, the critical developmental period was defined as birth to 36 months. Parents and teachers of three children with Down syndrome (ages 12 to 15 years) completed social skills questionnaires concerning each child’s general and compensatory social skills. A parent demographic and diagnostic form was used to collect data on history of intervention and assessment, hearing impairment, cognitive level, and key demographics of each child. Direct assessment of each child’s expressive language, receptive language, and IQ was conducted by the researcher. No results were significant (likely due to limited power), but effect sizes were large. As predicted (based on effect size), expressive language and receptive language were positively related to social skills. Likewise, if a child did not require PET placement or required PET placement and received it within the critical developmental period, expressive language, receptive language, and general social skills were higher when compared to a child who was determined to need PET placement but did not receive it during the critical developmental period. Potential moderator and mediator models, including the possible role of compensatory social skills, were explored. The results from this pilot study are promising and underscore the importance of continued research that may inform early intervention efforts for children with Down syndrome, particularly regarding the placement of PET for these children.