How do Children with Hearing Loss Develop Speech and Language?

Have you ever wondered by hearing is do important for your child’s development?  

Hearing allows a child to develop spoken language and when there is an impairment (despite how minimal the loss is) speech and language development is delayed/impaired/does not develop.  Language is also the core of learning.  Children learn through language (especially understanding), when the mechanism responsible for taking these messages to the brain are not available, learning suffers.  This is why I can not stress enough how important newborn hearing screening is.  Furthermore, have your child’s hearing screened at least annually.  Children are susceptible to many kinds of infections and conditions that can cause hearing loss (have a look at some acquired causes of hearing loss here).  The earlier the child is identified, the better the outcome.

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Now what?

So the child is identified as having hearing loss and was fitted with hearing aids… is that all? NO!  A big fat resounding NO!  Children have to learn how to listen and make sense of the sounds that they here.  This is done with therapy, mostly like Auditory-Verbal Therapy or Listening and Spoken Language Skills therapy that is guided by a professional (usually speech-therapist, audiologist or special needs teachers).  These approaches to speech and language developement are based on teaching the child to use listening as the only mode of developing communication.

Here’s why I’m talking about it

Here is Pietermaritzburg, there aren’t any therapists who offer this type of therapy for children with hearing loss.  So when an opportunity to start a training course came up, I jumped at it!  I’m training to be a Auditory-Verbal therapist with the University of Stellenbosch.  I am really excited about all of, and anxious too.  It’s going to take an entire year of commitment and tonnes of learning thereafter!  But there is a dire need for it in my geographical location and it’s one of the things that is very close to my heart!  At the moment, I am working a very special family.  The little one has just had her cochlea implant switched on!

So remember, listening and speaking doesn’t just happen!  If there you at all concerned about your child’s speech or language, have their hearing tested ASAP.  I strongly advise against the “wait-and-see” approach. Make an appointment with an audiologist and just do it!

That’s all from me this week!  Pop me a comment if you have questions 🙂

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