The Auditory-Verbal Way

November 28, 2018

By: Shefali Shah

In these early days, you may well find yourself wondering how your deaf child can possibly understand anything you are saying because the only thing that is booming through your mind is “hearing loss”.

Use these tips to help you trust that your child does indeed understand.

Ear access: Get down to your child’s ear level.

This Auditory-Verbal technique is rooted in the understanding that in order for a deaf child to understand, s/he must be able to hear the spoken signal as clearly as possible. Getting down to your baby’s ear level ensures that whatever you are saying has the best chance of being detected by your child, simply because you made the effort to present it optimally.

Close is best

The optimal distance from which to talk to your child is 6 inches at ear level if recently fitted with hearing aids and at 1 ft. if s/he is a cochlear implant recipient. Your child’s audiologist and/or Auditory-Verbal therapist will have explained the Physics of this 6 dB rule that when the distance is doubled, the intensity of the speech signal drops by 6 dB. In time, your child will demonstrate distance listening because his listening skills will have improved significantly but in these early days, clear reception of the spoken signal is critical to the development of listening skills. During this period of initial fit, it is best to do what it takes to deliver as clear a speech signal as your child needs to be able to understand what was said; not merely to have detected it.

Soft is powerful

Shouting creates distortion in the speech signal. Contrary to popular belief, speaking softly and close to the deaf child’s hearing device (hearing aid/s and/cochlear implant/s) generates the clear signal that your baby or young child needs in order to understand what was said.

Trust that your child hears

Once your baby has been fitted with appropriate amplification, it can be reasonably assumed that s/he is detecting sound. Do not look for constant validation that your child has heard. Look instead for signs that she understood. She will let you know.

Trusting that your child hears, allows you to maintain a steady conversation with her, rather than constantly repairing the conversation which eventually dampens your enthusiasm.

Give your child the benefit of the doubt

Mistakes are huge opportunities for learning. Allow your child to falter and to make mistakes. Guide his learning, with verbal explanations, so that he is able to pick himself up again. Wait quietly, for him to join the dots having drawn his own conclusions instead of jumping in, explaining everything away with your adult logic.

Remember: hearing children don’t understand everything either!

The fact that their child may not have understood what was just said, does not stop parents of children with normal hearing from continuing to talk, clarify and/or discuss the matter at hand.

Don’t let it stop you!