Monday, June 29, 2015

Consulting for Advanced Bionics- Hear and Be Heard™

It is always a nice change of pace to take a few days break from my private practice at the Auditory Verbal Center of Wheaton and consult for Advanced Bionics. Earlier, this month I had another opportunity to spend a couple days talking with educators and other professionals about cochlear implants and sharing information about Advanced Bionic's amazing RehAB resources. 

Bionic Ear Association- Hear and Be Heard

The BEA is comprised of caring professionals and a dedicated team of volunteers who provide you and your loved ones with information, education, and support for choosing, getting, and living with cochlear implants.

Links for BEA Resources  

Listening and Learning Resources

Classroom Tools for Your Child

Comprehensive Education and Support

Suggesting to Help Your Child Be a Better Listener and Speaker

This blog post shares an article regarding Factors Influencing Progress in Listening and Spoken Language written by Donna Sperandio, Head of Rehabilitation at MED-EL
You can read the original article HERE

Help Your Child be a Good Listener and Speaker

A cochlear implant can help your child to hear sounds, but to listen to them—that’s an important skill that’s worth developing. Listening skills develop in stages, and like any other skill, practice can make perfect.

This is where you come in: you can help your child to develop his or her listening skills. Your child is more likely to develop good listening skills through exposure to real-life and meaningful situations rather than repetitive drills, so here are some ways to engage your child throughout the day.

What Are “Listening Skills”?

For a child with a cochlear implant, there are three general steps on the path to developing “listening skills.”
  1. In the early days of hearing with a cochlear implant, “listening skills” means recognizing that a sound has been made, drawing attention to this, and responding to it.
  2. Then, “listening skills” develops into being able to differentiate between different sounds—hearing and recognizing that there is a difference between animal noises like moo for a cow and baa for a sheep.
  3. This turns into listening to familiar words and understanding their rhythms or syllable patterns. Children use this information to help them sort out and learn new words.
  4. From that point, it’s about building vocabulary with the ultimate goal of listening to conversational speech, phrases, and sentences.
For children with or without a cochlear implant developing these skills will take some time. So if you’ve got any questions about your child’s progress just ask his or her hearing professional.

Communication is a Two-Way Process

If you are a good listener, you can help your child to become a good speaker.

How you can be a good listener

  • If your child is trying to say something, always give him or her your attention.
  • If your child is trying to speak or make sounds, say “I can hear you,” nod your head in encouragement. Try to understand and try to respond to what he or she says saying.
  • Do not be afraid to guess—your child will let you know if you are wrong!

How to help your child be a good listener

  • Encourage a good listening position: be on same level as your child and make sure your child has the best access to the sound of your voice. If your child cannot sit up prop him or her up with cushions or in a chair, or hold him or her in your arms.
  • Try to get your child’s attention before you speak—using words and sound, like saying his or her name, to get your child’s listening attention is best. If your child doesn’t respond then try staying still or holding an interesting object near your face. Once your child looks toward you then start speaking; your child will recognize this as a reward for looking at you.
  • Put words to the routines of day-to-day life, like talking through the process of getting dressed or making a meal. Repeat, repeat, repeat in natural phrases and sentences! It’ll take lots of repetition to help your child understand the words and what they mean.
  • Give your child the words he or she needs by putting words to actions. For example if your child seems thirsty then say, “Do you want a drink? Let’s get your drink. Here’s your drink. It’s orange juice.” This will let your child to hear what you’re going to do before you do it, and then the meaning of the words you use will be reinforces once you do the action. Or if your child is taking off his or her shoes you might say “It’s stuck, your shoe’s stuck. Pull! Pull hard! Your shoe is coming off now. We got it off!”
  • And through all of this, make your meaning clear and be consistent. Use your face and body to back up what you say in a natural way. If you are saying “no” for something you do not like that your child is doing don’t laugh or smile when you talk to him about it. Instead, you could shake your head back and forth to reinforce that the word “no” goes with this action. When you’re happy, say how happy you are and then give your child a smile or hug.
  • Positively reinforce good listening by actively telling your child when you notice he or she is listening well, like “You heard me! That was great listening.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

JUNE: Listening and Spoken Language Calendar

Here is a month's worth of language ideas
 that you can incorporate into AUDITORY VERBAL THERAPY with your child.
 Click HERE to download your own printable copy.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What Can Influence Your Child's Progress in Listening and Spoken Language ?

This blog post shares an article regarding Factors Influencing Progress in Listening and Spoken Language written by Donna Sperandio, Head of Rehabilitation at MED-EL
You can read the original article HERE

12 Factors That Influence Listening and Language With Cochlear Implants for Children

If your child was born with a significant sensorineural hearing loss, a cochlear implant can be one of the best ways to help them connect with the world of sound.

Because every child’s hearing loss is different, each will hear and develop differently after receiving a cochlear implant. So to help you understand more about what affects a child’s ability to hear and develop with a cochlear implant, we’ve put together this list of the different influencing factors. Some cannot be changed, and some can.

Factors that Cannot Be Changed

When you’re considering cochlear implants for your child, there are some factors that just cannot be changed. Most of these relate to your child’s physical well-being.
  1. Age, and duration of deafness. It’s better to receive a cochlear implant earlier rather than later. A baby’s brain builds all of its nerve connections during the first years of life, so receiving a cochlear implant during this time helps the baby’s brain to adapt to the cochlear implant’s signals.
  2. Cause of deafness. Is it genetic, or part of a syndrome with other conditions?
  3. Anatomical Differences. Some medical conditions like Mondini malformation, common cavity, or ossification can impact which electrode array can be used and where it can be placed.
  4. Auditory nerve condition. A functioning auditory nerve is required for a cochlear implant’s signals to travel from the cochlea to the brain.
  5. Language skills. If your child lost his or her hearing loss after developing language skills, studies show that they have a high chance of better hearing and listening with the implant.1
  6. Cognitive skills. Does your child have any intellectual disabilities?
  7. Additional disabilities. Does your child have any other physical or mental disabilities, like autism, blindness, or ADD? Studies show that children with multiple disabilities can hear significantly better after receiving a cochlear implant, but their progress in listening and spoken language development was slower and they sometimes had poorer linguistic skills than those without multiple disabilities.2

What You Can Change

At the same time, there are lots of ways to influence how well your child does with his or her cochlear implant. They’re mostly behavioral.
  1. Using hearing aids. Before receiving a cochlear implant, is your child able to use hearing aids? They don’t have to provide perfect hearing, but using any hearing aids before receiving an implant is better than nothing. And if your child doesn’t like to use hearing aids this is important to know before using a cochlear implant.
  2. Interest in language. Is your child interested in developing language skills? The more interested he or she is the better he or she might do in developing them. This could be showing curiosity, exploring the environment around them, and using non-verbal language like pointing and gesturing.
  3. Education and support. Having a knowledgeable and experienced team of professionals around your child, those who understand how to develop listening and spoken language, is a vital part of the rehabilitation process.
  4. Your child’s behavior. What learning style is the best for your child—is he or she active or passive, shy or stubborn, impulsive or timid? Will his or her behavior interfere with participation in learning activities, or fitting sessions? These aren’t insurmountable but it’s good to understand them before receiving an implant.
  5. Social and family issues. Making sure you and your family have enough time to dedicate to helping your child learn to listen and speak. Learn about deafness and how it impacts language development, the technology options that are available to your child, and how to set appropriate expectations.
This post was written with help from MaryKay Theres, a speech-language pathologist.
  1. Waltzman, S.B., Scalchunes, V., Cohen, N.L. (2000). Performance of multiply handicapped children using cochlear implants. American Journal of Otology21: 321-35.
  2. Isaacson, J.E., Hasenstab, M.S., Wohl, D.L., Williams, G.H. (1996). Learning disability in children with postmeningitic cochlear implants. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 122(9): 929-36.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hearing Loss and the National Yellow Dot Safety Program

The national Yellow Dot safety program is a tool to provide first responders with information about a disability and/or a health issue that can help them save lives. For people with hearing loss, this could alert first responders/ER personnel to the fact that someone uses cochlear implants and cannot have an MRI or that the person uses hearing aids, making emergency personnel aware about a potential need for additional communication options and accommodations. The program includes a Key Tag, an information form for your glove box and an Official Yellow Dot decal. Users can update personal information 24/7.

Time to Schedule Summer Auditory Based Therapy!