29 January 2019
By: Shefali Shah
The presence of hearing loss means that you are going to have to choose how you wish to communicate with your child and how you would like your deaf child to communicate in turn. Your family may choose to raise your deaf child with sign language or a visual means of communication that requires s/he lipread the speaker. However, you may also choose to raise your hearing-impaired child to understand spoken language via listening alone.
There are 2 fundamental questions that you and your family need to answer for yourselves:
1. Do you want your baby or young child with hearing loss to grow up to listen and talk like other children his or her age?
2. Are you willing to leave your baby’s progress in listening, learning and talking to chance and the process of growing up or do you want to pro-actively establish age appropriate levels of development for your deaf child at the earliest?
If your answer to both questions is ‘Yes’, then you have chosen Auditory-Verbal Therapy for your child with hearing impairment.
Children with hearing loss, need to be taught to listen. Outlined below are some of the reasons why Auditory-Verbal Therapy would help your deaf child:
1. Born to parents with normal hearing
Ninety-five percent of children with hearing loss are born to parents with normal hearing who communicate using spoken language. It is reasonable to assume that spoken language communication would be the methodology of choice for the majority of families who have a hearing-impaired child.
2. Listening in noise
Life is noisy. Classrooms are bustling, noisy learning environments and so are playgrounds. Birthday parties are noisy; family dining tables can get noisy, especially at family celebrations. Clubs and restaurants are noisy too! Yet all these environments are the hub of every growing child and social adult.
Noise, in the presence of a hearing loss presents a challenge. Noise masks the speech signal, which no longer is clearly audible. For a deaf child struggling to listen, noise makes it even more difficult to keep track of conversations and ever- changing playground rules.
Your child’s audiologist will have guided you to choose optimal amplification (hearing aids/cochlear implants/Baha Sound Processors) so that your deaf child’s hearing technology automatically identifies and adjusts to noise to heighten the clarity of the speech signal. However, listening in noise will always present its challenges. Your Auditory-Verbal therapist will guide you to train your child’s listening in noise.
Ninety percent of what children with normal hearing learn is through over-hearing.(Flexer, C.) The young child sitting doing his home-work overhears his family discuss the celebrations for Grandpa’s upcoming birthday. Given the advances in modern hearing technology (hearing aids/cochlear implants/Baha Sound Processors), your deaf child can be taught to over-hear too.
4. Listening at a distance
Physics explains that as distance from the source of sound is doubled, the intensity of that sound diminishes by 6 dB. (The 6 dB rule). Learning and social environments are acoustically dynamic: Teachers continue to teach as they walk around their classrooms. Playing outdoors with friends or classmates running helter-skelter, shouting tactics or instructions to team members, is extremely challenging for deaf children who have not been taught to listen. Yet these are critical listening skills that allow your deaf child to truly feel that s/he belongs to the community.
Auditory-Verbal Therapy allows deaf children to lead lives as contributing members of the communities of their choice.