Hearing Impairments: Building Your Child’s Language Made Easy

Often times, learning that your child has a hearing impairment/loss can leave you with a wide range of emotions and questions. One of these questions often comes when we start to think about how this will impact a child’s language. Since a child’s exposure to sound and talking is crucial to developing their language, it is important for amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implant, etc) to be worn as much as possible.

Bombard your child with as many environmental sounds as possible, label every item you see, talk about what you’re doing, talk to them all day every day- you cannot interact and talk with your child too much. When possible, make sure that they can see your face and that there is minimal background noise.

Easy strategies used to enhance a child’s listening experience:  

  • Create an auditory sandwich – Pick a familiar routine for your child, for example, ‘Time to brush your teeth’. First you say the phrase to your child ‘Time to brush your teeth’. Next you say the phrase and use visual cues to reinforce what you are saying, ‘Time to brush your teeth’ + model brushing your teeth’. Last say the phrase again without any visual cues, ‘Time to brush your teeth.’
  • Acoustic highlighting – Use this to emphasize a particular sound or phrase when talking to your child. You can follow your child’s lead when using this strategy. If your child says they see a ‘tar’ you can replay by saying ‘No, that isn’t a tar that’s a caaaar’. By emphasizing the word car it differentiates between the wrong word and the correct word. You can implement this when teaching new vocabulary or sounds. This not only reinforces the use of new words/sounds but also promotes better listening skills.
  • Self talk – Talk about what you are doing. If you are cooking than say out loud what you are doing. ‘I am cooking. I am cooking on the stove, I am cooking supper on the stove’.
  • Parallel talk – Talk about what your child is doing. If your child is playing with cars than say what they are doing. ‘You are driving a car, you are driving a red card’.
    • For Parallel and Self talk use both of these as opportunities to say a phrase and expand on what you are saying. This allows your child to first hear a simple phrase and then to build on it as provided in the examples given above.
  • Recasting – When your child says a phrase such as ‘daddy go’, use this opportunity to put your child’s utterance into a question ‘Oh, did daddy go to work?’.

Good luck!

Danielle Beaudette, M.S. CCC-SLP

**If you have any concerns with your child’s speech, language, hearing,  and/or feeding development, please contact Deborah L. Curlee Communication Consultants at (865) 693-5622. We have a team of experienced speech-language pathologists that would love to meet with you and discuss options for your child. **