Early Intervention in Children with Hearing Loss

Children with hearing loss benefit greatly from early identification and amplification. When identified at birth, aided around three months, and in therapy around six months, children with hearing loss are likely to develop age appropriate speech and language skills. A child using amplification such as hearing aids or a cochlear implant can ‘hear’ however they will benefit from being taught to ‘listen’. Think of ‘hearing’ as being aware of auditory input and ‘listening’ as taking in the auditory input in a meaningful way. Here are three strategies that can be used in therapy and at home when working to develop language and listening skills in young children that have a hearing loss:

  1. "Make your point" - This strategy involves pointing to your ear when you hear a sound (an environmental sound, such as a car horn or dog barking), a toy that has been activated, etc.) and say, ‘I hear that’. Then imitate the sound you heard and label it with a vocabulary word and a visual. 
  2. "Auditory sandwich" - This strategy provides auditory input, followed by auditory input combined with a visual, followed by the auditory input again. Here is an example that could be used when playing with a barn and animals. First, make the sound you want to teach such as ‘moo’ for a cow. Then point to the cow or bring it to the child and say ‘moo’ again or ‘the cow says moo’. Finally provide the auditory input again for the targeted sound ‘moo’.
  3. "Acoustic Highlighting" - Acoustic highlighting is used to emphasize the target word or sound in continuous speech. You can do this by increasing your volume when you say the target, slowing your rate of speech, and pausing slightly before and after saying the target word.

Hopefully these tips will allow you to help your child learn developmental speech and language skills amidst a hearing loss. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office. We have therapists that specialize in hearing loss/cochlear implants that would be more than happy to work with you and your child. 

- Pamela Johnson, M.S. CCC-SLP