Thirty-Two Terrific Tasks for Preschool Language Fun

Posted on December 19 2014, 1:19:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Parents can involve their young child with hearing loss in varied activities to encourage communication and thinking.  When a child is engaged in interesting experiences, he has many reasons to listen and use language.  Conversations can include expressions a child knows and introduce new concepts to nurture curiosity.  The thirty-two terrific tasks outlined here can be easily adapted and the words listed are only examples.  Care should be taken to avoid emphasizing naming objects or asking multiple questions.  Parents can share this list of suggestions with caregivers so they can explore ideas with a preschooler! Chats that contain observations and wondering provide much language fun.

Download a PDF version of Thirty-Two Terrific Tasks for Preschool Language Fun.

Click here to read Thirty-Two Terrific Tasks for Preschool Language Fun in Spanish

Crafting
1. Cut and paste pictures of favorites. Talk about what the child prefers and enjoys.
2. Paint with different size and shaped sponges. Describe dipping, pressing and patterns.
3. Construct decorations for doors or windows. Discuss materials, designs and variations.
4. Pound, roll and shape Play-doh, clay or dough. Chat about textures, shapes and sizes.

Exploring
5. Search outdoors for either common or unusual items (bikes, rocks, puddles, etc.) Talk about what you saw and make a list.
6. Listen for birds, cats, dogs, bugs or other small creatures. Describe how they look, move, sound  and usually eat or live.
7. Brush water (with rollers or paintbrushes) onto cement and add chalk too. Discuss what to try for different results.
8. Pop, catch and blow bubbles using different sizes and types of wands. Chat about how bubbles form, fly and dissolve. 

Cooking 
9. Make a refrigerated food (ice cream, pudding). Talk about cool, crystals and frozen.
10. Heat a liquid or food (cocoa, oatmeal). Describe ranges from warm, bubbling to boiling,
11. Stir a drink using powder and ice. Discuss measuring, mixing, shaking and pouring.
12.Bake a multi-step recipe (cookies, cupcakes).  Chat about the order: first, next, then and last.

Moving
13. Roll, kick, throw or bounce balls. Talk about ways to pass, catch and toss balls to one another and into large containers.
14. Dance to different types of music at varied volumes. Describe actions and imitations of movements to tunes.
15. Build an obstacle course with furniture, boxes and toys. Discuss directions for going around/over/under objects.
16. Join free sport groups at a local recreation center. Chat about typical skills and terms for games (goal/tumble/strike).

Thinking
17. Attend free days at science centers and museums.  Talk about the exhibits before and after.
18. Plant flowers, herbs or vegetables in small pots.  Describe how seeds grow and change.
19. Play simple board or matching games.  Discuss predicting, following rules and taking turns.
20. Measure objects using string or other items.  Chat about sizes, counting and comparisons.

Touring
21. Visit areas different from home (beach, city, parks). Talk about what you saw or heard and take pictures too.
22. Go to diverse stores and marketplaces. Describe what you smelled and touched and what you might purchase.
23. Walk in nearby neighborhoods. Discuss buildings, parks, greenery, signs, traffic and people that you notice.
24. Ride a bus or train, or use a wagon, bicycle or scooter. Chat about the distance, time and speed of your mini-trip.

Pretending
25. Act out a part of a favorite story. Talk about what some characters said, did or felt.
26. Invent musical instruments. Describe and mimic sounds for drums, rattles and bells.
27. Hide objects under a cloth. Discuss guesses for hidden items and make up ways to use them.
28. Put on adult clothes or play dress up.  Chat about roles and actions associated with outfits.

Reading 
29. Read multiple books daily. Talk about the pictures, predict what might happen and review the main points of the story.
30. Create a photo book of a special experience.  Describe the emotions and memories, and write captions under the photos.
31. Compose a note together for a relative or friend. Discuss what to write or draw and include signatures/scribbles too.
32. Seek out print everywhere. Chat about letters and words in emails, street signs, lists and names of classmates or friends.

Fun Family Activities

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Reading Regularly to a Young Child with Hearing Loss

Posted on December 03 2014, 11:00:00 AM | Posted by jtcpals

Families encourage literacy by looking at books, sharing stories, enjoying rhymes and reading aloud with their young child with hearing loss. Being read to daily at a very early age provides numerous learning and social benefits. A child’s listening skills increase from frequent reading sessions. His language expands by exploring many types of stories. His thinking grows from exploring concepts presented in books. A child’s conversational abilities become more complex after participating in dialogue of stories and discussions with adults about books. Families who read aloud regularly promote advances in communication, cognition, reading, writing and school skills. 

The techniques outlined here will help parents enrich reading aloud experiences for their young child with hearing loss. These tips can be used in any language and communication approach. Through shared reading a parent and child can develop a special bond with one another and the world of books. Using these powerful strategies can transform reading time into a rewarding routine filled with wonder, laughter, reassurance and learning.

Enhance Reading Aloud by:

Adjusting—vary when, where and how long to read to keep a child’s attention 
Choosing—select diverse stories and types of picture books to spark curiosity 
Discussing—promote auditory memory by recalling or reciting parts of stories
Expanding—relate some stories to a child’s own experiences or imaginative play
Highlighting—emphasize certain words periodically to introduce speech sounds
Pacing—adopt a rate that provides time for anticipation and comprehension
Repeating—provide frequent opportunities to read and also re-read favorites
Stimulating—use expression and show enjoyment to encourage listening
Turn-taking—share roles for a child to point to pictures, turn pages and “read” 
Waiting—pause often for a child to participate, think, react, ask or comment

Beginning Stages

Reading aloud everyday nurtures a child’s interest in listening.

Parent Reads Child Responds
Start reading to babies as soon as they are born. Sing, whisper, use high and low voices, rhyme and be animated. He might begin to develop sound awareness. He may be comforted by familiar songs and stories.
Stress fun repetitious phrases or words. Use many kinds of books and include gestures, facial expressions and actions. He might repeat certain sounds or words. He may start to fill in parts of phrases.

 

Increasing Abilities

New and familiar books add to the excitement of language learning.

Parent Reads: Child Responds:
Talk about the pictures on the cover and each page. Improvise to connect with a child’s interests and ideas. He might point to pictures. He may add to what is said or ask questions.
Ask open ended questions that can have many responses. Discuss concepts and feelings and provide background knowledge. He might answer simple questions. He might relate the story to his own experiences.

Continuing Skills

Story sequences and print awareness add to emerging literacy skills.

Parent Reads: Child Responds:
Talk about what will happen or discuss the beginning/middle /end of a story. Expand the plot and add to vocabulary. He might predict possibilities or change the story. He may use words from books in his conversations.
Move a finger under print from left to right. Identify familiar letters or common letter-sound combinations when this fits with a story and a child’s level. He might answer simple questions. He might relate the story to his own experiences.

Families can start regularly reading aloud when their child is an infant and continue even after he begins to read independently. Delighting in pictures, exploring words through expression and discovering ideas in stories can contribute to a child’s love of books and literacy skills used for a lifetime. 

 

 

Download a PDF version of Reading Regularly to a Young Child with Hearing Loss.

Click here to read Reading Regularly to a Young Child with Hearing Loss in Spanish.

Development and Learning | Fun Family Activities

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Meet My Child!

Posted on August 08 2014, 3:49:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Teachers and therapists welcome information about children to be able to work with them well. Parents can provide information from their own observations and others’ reports. A personal way to share a child’s strengths is by giving service providers an introductory summary.

A “Meet My Child” intro can be created however a family prefers. Sometimes they make a small book with photos. Others might create a one-page list.  Parents can choose to share what they think will help service providers interact easily with a child and get to know him quickly. 

A child summary can create an initial connection between families and those working with them. Parents can offer to come talk to children in a class, meet with staff and provide email/text/phone contacts. Here are suggestions for sharing specific but simple examples:

My child’s name is: Isabelle but everyone calls her Bella. She can write part of her first name.

My child enjoys: swings and climbing. He likes to build with blocks and play in the sandbox.

My child’s favorite are: books about trains, Curious George videos and chocolate cookies.

Our family includes: Mama, grandpa and Cousin, Anna. We ride the bus to our appointments.

Our home has: a wooden toy rocking horse and a large brown and white pet dog named Duke.

My child’s school is: a Family Day Care but next year it will be the neighborhood preschool.

My child uses this listening device: a cochlear implant that sends signals to the brain to sense sound. Or: hearing aids that makes sounds louder but not always clearer.

My child communicates: by talking but sometimes may need you to repeat questions or directions.

My child hears better: when background noise is reduced and individuals speak one at a time.

If the listening device is not working: my child may respond slower or seem not to notice voices.

You also need to know: Here parents can provide more information or additional pages. This might include a drawing or explanation about the listening device. For example: This is how the implant or hearing aid should look on my child’s head. It should be worn all waking hours and kept dry. If it falls off, staff can follow steps to put it back on. Our family checks the battery every day.

Provided with these examples is a list of child descriptors a families can use or adapt.

 

Meet My Child!

My child’s name is:

My child enjoys: 

My child’s favorite are: 

Our family includes: 

Our home has:

My child’s school is: 

My child uses this listening device:

My child communicates: 

My child hears better: 

If the listening device is not working:

You also need to know: 

 

Download a PDF version of Meet My Child!

Click here to read Meet My Child! in Spanish.

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Strengthening Social Skills for Special Days

Posted on August 04 2014, 3:43:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Holidays and special events are wonderful times for a child with hearing loss to delight in different experiences and discover new language. Anticipation begins as he helps with preparations and then his awareness grows as he participates. When parents guide a child to be involved in a parade, festival, party, feast, performance, or family event, this naturally strengthens social skills for special days.

Preparation:
Assisting with preparations offers many opportunities for interaction. These experiences build a child’s understanding and encourage conversation!

Reading – Explore books and discuss pictures of a past or similar event.  Look at short descriptions that connect the upcoming event with a child’s curiosity or current interests. An example would be reading a picture book about a celebration and sharing excitement about its arrival.

Talking – Use words and demonstrate actions that will be part of an upcoming celebration. Enjoy discussing what is planned or why you are celebrating. An example would be reviewing words or phrases commonly used during the event so the child can join in or be able to answer.

Remembering – Look at photos of the child himself or other family members in a prior special day. Have fun recalling experiences or identifying who will be part of a future event. An example would be viewing videos of the child and family sharing a recent, special time.

Decorating – Design together or arrange decorations for traditional or family special days. Display some items where a child can enjoy looking at them or show others what he made. An example would be creating simple items that might be kept and used again for future celebrations.

Participation:
Encouraging participating can provide many natural communication experiences. Being involved directly expands a child’s knowledge and social skills. 

Cooking – Choose one quick recipe that the child can help make. Involve the child in buying some items at the store and then following directions to prepare the ingredients. An example would be helping to cook, decorate or serve food to be shared during a special day.

Singing – Enjoy specific songs associated with an event or invent a short melody. Teach the child actions that go with one tune or the words to a repetitive verse. An example might be singing a birthday song or joining in clapping in rhythm to certain segments of a celebration song.
Communicating -Explain to extended family how to interact simply and often. Show how to use methods that support the child in listening easily and responding comfortably.   An example would be guiding visitors to directly talk to the child and pause to give him time to reply.

Playing – Plan games and activities that are usually part a special day. Introduce the typical language and behaviors so the child can be ready to join. An example could be a practicing a game so the child knows what to do when it is his turn and can be part of the group fun. 

Children can be guided to explore multiple actions, concepts and words associated with special days. Some examples may fit for many families but other events could vary by cultures and regions. By identifying events expected in coming months, parents can start to familiarize a child with customary activities and typical language that fit with a family’s personal style and traditional celebrations.

 

General Examples to be Modified by Individual Families

Event Action Concept Sound/word Phrases
Birthdays Blowing candles Make a wish Part of birthday song I am ___ years old.
Ceremonies Imitating movements Watch quietly Shhhh Congratulations!
Feasts Eating at table Try a taste Yummmm Please?
Games Playing in a small group Take turns Hurrah Can I play?
Gifts Scribbling a mark/letter to “sign” a card Give/receive Oh Wow This is for you.
Parades Waving Applaud Look, look It’s too loud.
Parties Shaking hands Meet new friends Hello What’s your name?

Parents can plan ahead to help a young child with hearing loss learn from preparing and participating in everything from a casual play date to a formal holiday observance .  As his understanding and interactions increase a child can delight in family festivities and community occasions. Everyone can celebrate his strengthened social skills.

Download a PDF version of Strengthening Social Skills for Special Days.

Click here to view Strengthening Social Skills for Special Days in Spanish.

Fun Family Activities

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Advancing Auditory Abilities of New Listeners

Posted on March 17 2014, 1:25:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Parents anxiously await their child’s responses to sound when he gets hearing aids or cochlear implants. The process of learning to listen takes experience and time. Families are an essential part of that process. They use everyday occurrences to enjoy exploring sounds with their child. Parents can pause, expect the child to react and offer encouragement when he responds.  They can also join in pointing out, locating and listening to sounds together.  

As the child with a hearing aid or cochlear implant learns to listen, he progresses through four levels of audition:   detection, discrimination, identification and comprehension. Audiologists set devices to provide the best awareness of sound while therapists and parents help the child strengthen his listening skills. A child develops interest in listening as he reacts to, searches for and recognizes sounds.    

Detection
Detection is awareness of sound.  A child might enjoy playing with a toy and notice the music it makes. He does not yet understand the meaning of that sound or how it may differ from others.  When he hears his musical toy he might glance upward or look around.  As he becomes more aware he may search for other sounds he hears.

Many sounds occur naturally throughout a child’s day.  A child can be gently guided to attend to varied sounds when they happen. Families do not need to frequently present sounds to determine if the child hears.  They can build their child’s awareness of voices by showing him when big brother is calling to him, baby sister is crying or grandma is talking. 

Discrimination 
With experience a child discriminates between sounds.  He realizes that sounds differ although he still does not know what each means.  When he is playing with a musical toy but looks up if people nearby begin to talk, he is discriminating the difference between sounds.  

Families can guide their child to learn sound discrimination. They might aid him in identifying if the microwave beeps in a noisy kitchen when other sounds are occurring. To help a child discriminate a specific speech sound, parents might sometimes carefully emphasize it while continuing to use a normal tone and pace.  For example if the child is learning the ‘sh’ sound, a parent might say “sh-sh-shush, the baby is napping.”

Identification
A child begins to identify sounds as he associates them with specific actions or objects.  This skill often occurs almost at the same time as the discrimination stage.  When a child knows that the sound of his musical toy is different from other sounds, he quickly begins to identify what each sound represents.  He might hear his musical toy and run to find it.  

Families help with sound identification by aiding a child to find the source of a sound.  They might guide him to look for the loud garbage truck when it arrives regularly.  Later when he hears it, the child initiates going to window to see the truck.  He does not yet know that the truck picks up garbage but he identifies its sound. Parents can also assist a child with identifying some speech sounds by using a sing-song voice for certain words. They might say, “Do you want to be picked up? Up, up, up?”  Although the child does not know the meaning of the words, he raises his arms because he associates that tone with being picked up.   

Comprehension
When a child comprehends a sound, he responds with appropriate action or language.  He understands the meaning of specific sounds and how to react to them.  At this stage, a child would recognize the sounds of his musical toy and the actions that can accompany its tunes. When he hears the musical toy’s sounds, he starts movements the family has been doing for that song. For example, when the toy plays the pony song, he pretends to ride a horse. He is able to act on his identification of a sound.

A child is guided through the comprehension stage when families help him understand a sound and respond.  A parent might explain when the buzzer for the dryer rings, that the clothes are ready to go in the laundry basket for the child to help sort. Over time a child could demonstrate his comprehension of the meaning of that sound by getting the laundry basket when the dryer buzzes. Guiding a child to comprehend speech is done when families talk about an object, look at it and use the word in various situations. An example would be if they do this on many occasions for shoes, eventually when the child is asked to get his shoes, he demonstrates comprehension by looking for them.

Additional strategies families can use to encourage listening include: 

  • singing often, inventing tunes and enjoying musical activities
  • imitating natural sounds that are meaningful and interesting
  • using varied voice patterns and typical facial expressions 
  • talking within three feet of the child’s device microphone 
  • communicating in meaningful short sentences and phrases 
  • using longer sentences as the child’s understanding grows 

A child is encouraged to develop his auditory skills when families provide experiences and enthusiasm for fun listening.  He becomes more attentive to sound and curious about new sounds.  The child may indicate if his device is on or off and when the battery is not working.  His responses to hearing tests could increase in accuracy.  A child’s spoken language will improve as he understands speech sounds in words. With much practice and encouragement, a child gradually grows from a new listener to one with advanced auditory abilities.

Download a PDF version of Advancing Auditory Abilities of New Listeners

Read Advancing Auditory Abilities of New Listeners in Spanish

Hearing Loss and Listening Devices

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Making the Most of Your Child’s Audiology Appointments

Posted on February 21 2014, 4:47:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Parents can obtain the best access to sound possible for their child by being actively involved in audiology appointments.  Audiologists follow a child regularly to identify hearing levels, check devices, and manage auditory health. Parents can ask questions, document listening and discuss decisions.  Audiologists can provide information, track progress and build a partnership with the family.  Together parents and audiologists can transform appointments into learning sessions on how to help the child.

Becoming Comfortable  
Developing a good working relationship requires locating an audiologist who has experience with children and interacts well with the individual family.  Over time the parent and the child can build trust and become comfortable with the audiologist. If parents wish to change audiologists they can ask their child’s Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist or other families for a recommendation. As parents and audiologists increase their contact and deepen their communication, they form a partnership where they both contribute to their understanding of the child’s needs.

Scheduling appointments   
Families can finish each appointment with a schedule for return testing.  Depending on a child’s age, hearing loss or type of listening device, testing might be scheduled between 3 and 6 month intervals.   Children with hearing loss younger than eight years of age will benefit from visiting the audiologist more than once per year.  Hearing levels can change and new recommendations for listening devices might be considered. Even if they are not using a listening device, children with Auditory Neuropathy need to be seen every 6 months or anytime there are concerns about changes in responses.  

Asking questions   
Parents often ask what their child can hear. The audiologist might mark hearing levels on an audiogram to show what sounds should be audible and at what distance the child should hear them.  After a child becomes accustomed to listening, audiologists will inquire about his responses.  Parents can discuss changes in sound awareness, concerns about responses, differences in using speech sounds or discomfort with any sounds. A child might answer questions too or ask his own. Asking and answering questions help audiologists conduct testing, determine if the hearing aid or implant needs adjustments or decide to refer to an ENT specialist.  

Checking  devices 
Assuring access to sound can be done by monitoring if devices are working well.  A device that is not functioning properly can impact a child’s listening and speech. Parents can learn how to do daily checks on a hearing aid, cochlear implant and/or FM to be sure devices are functioning correctly. They can troubleshoot problems such as distortion, static, or intermittence.  The audiologist should be contacted to check listening equipment if there are questions about how it is working.  Making appointments when there are concerns can help keep a child’s auditory input consistent for clear communication.

Providing information 
Parents can request that audiologists give information to the child’s service providers.  Services can be suggested and expectations can be shaped when other professionals know more about a child’s listening abilities. If there are changes made to settings or programs or a child gets a different listening device, observations of his listening behaviors can be reported.  The audiologists can help families and providers to understand the amount of time that might be needed to see change and what behaviors to look for and report.

Reporting progress 
The child’s educational staff can report concerns and successes for parents to tell the audiologist.  They can identify how new listening devices, hearing aid settings or cochlear implant maps seem to be impacting the child’s school performance. If the child is working with Speech Language or Auditory Verbal Therapists, reports from the audiologists can be used to guide him towards learning new speech sounds, and reports to the audiologist can show his progress.  For children with Auditory Neuropathy the times when hearing seems better or when listening becomes more difficult, can be reported to the parents and the audiologist.
Documenting listening
To record fully how a child is responding, examples of listening at home and school can be reviewed along with test results.  Families can document a variety of situations to share with the audiologist.  Parents can express concerns or identify hopes for improvement by listing specific examples such as:

  • Circumstances when the child listens well 
  • Settings when the child has difficulties
  • Distance that seems to be best for responses
  • Sounds the child is hearing often
  • Sounds which are upsetting or unnoticed
  • Inconsistencies that are concerning
  • Worries the family has currently
  • Questions parents need explained

Discussing Decisions  
As families express their concerns, audiologists give suggestions for how to increase listening skills. Parents can ask for their child to be tested in the sound booth wearing his hearing aid or implant to measure the effects of that device. The audiologist could explain the possible need for trying a different device or adding an FM system to help increase access to voices. A child might say what devices he wants and possibly choose colors he likes. If there is a recommendation to change from hearing aids to implants, discussing what this involves is part of the process.  

Forming Partnerships
Parents become empowered as they come to audiology appointments prepared to ask questions and consider options. Young children can be encouraged to provide information too.  When families communicate regularly with audiologists, shared information becomes more detailed. Discussions between the parent, child and audiologist lead to identifying specific strategies that best fit that child.  Together they can make the most of every appointment and form a strong and successful partnership that can last many years. 

 

Download a PDF version of Making the Most of Your Child’s Audiology Appointments.

View Making the Most of Your Child’s Audiology Appointments in Spanish.

Hearing Loss and Listening Devices

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Successful Strategies for Starting School Services

Posted on February 14 2014, 12:58:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Parents of young child with hearing loss have a significant role in the start of school services.  Many families wish to be active in their child’s early education but are unsure how to start. Programs and the rights of children and their families vary from country to country and even within countries. Parents can ask for a referral or initiate contact with community educators to begin learning about school possibilities.  Wherever they live, families can become involved in locating and designing learning. Effective advocacy involves determining their child’s needs, exploring education programs and initiating services. Then parents can collaborate with programs to nurture their child’s potential. 

Starting strategies for parents include:
Determining the Child’s Individual Needs

  1. Identify preferences for child’s communication and listening device(s). 
  2. Join groups to meet parents, share information and locate resources.
  3. Collect copies of child’s evaluations and recent recommendations.
  4. Document services received and effectiveness of techniques tried.
  5. Develop ongoing relationships with positive, pro-active professionals.

Exploring Hearing Loss Programs 

  1. Research educational approaches where the family lives.
  2. Visit programs for children in special and typical settings.
  3. Observe group size, peer contact and staff-child interactions.
  4. Inquire about teaching strategies, parent involvement and student outcomes.
  5. Ask about providers’ credentials, pediatric experience and training in hearing loss.

Meeting to Develop Early Services

  1. Present child’s past progress, current strengths and future goals.
  2. Request equipment and/or accommodations for participation.
  3. Invite an individual supportive of the family to accompany parent to meetings.
  4. Plan follow-up to discuss more questions and review progress.
  5. Continue learning about child’s hearing loss and communication.

When parents increase their understanding of educational approaches, they can participate with more confidence in their child’s schooling. In the U.S.A., the education of children with hearing loss, including eligibility and written plans, are protected by laws. Parent perspectives are part of the process for evaluating a child and making educational decisions.  Materials about the U.S. special education process are available from many sources including school districts, disability offices, parent organizations and the Internet.  Even when information is specific to a certain country, strategies, facts and suggestions may assist parents living elsewhere to develop plans for their child. 

As parents see what helps their child make progress, they can explore how to attain specific supports needed. Obtaining quality education can sometimes be a challenging experience for families. Establishing a strong combination of services and support can take much time, effort and ongoing modification. Parents around the world have discovered that positive advocacy is effective and empowering. The results of educational collaboration can be new opportunities for an individual child and maybe for other children too. The involvement of parents in starting school services can make a dramatic difference in a child’s learning and build a foundation for future achievement.

Download a PDF version of Successful Strategies for Starting School Services.
View Successful Strategies for Starting School Services in Spanish.

Parent Support and Advocacy

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Unilateral Hearing Loss is Unique

Posted on January 27 2014, 4:06:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Listening with both ears provides awareness of the direction of sound, ability to hear in noise, and a sense of strong, clear sound. Hearing loss in one ear, called unilateral loss, changes the listening experience. Unilateral hearing loss might be present at birth, develop slowly, happen suddenly or increase over time (showing a progressive loss). A child with unilateral hearing loss can still learn to listen and use spoken language relying on normal hearing in one ear. His responses may seem similar to a child with typical hearing but there are differences. When parents learn about the unique aspects of unilateral hearing loss they can work with service providers to determine needs for information and intervening.

Identifying 

Newborn hearing screening or routine hearing testing at any age can detect unilateral hearing loss.  The level of loss can vary from mild to profound. After identification an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist might be consulted to determine the reason for the hearing loss. The causes of unilateral hearing loss include mother’s illnesses during pregnancy, viruses in early childhood or incomplete formation of the ear. Obtaining genetic information about possible hereditary conditions or causes can also be explored. It is not always possible to identify the cause of unilateral loss but parents can focus on what to do for their child. 

Following up
After the initial diagnosis, a child needs regular testing to check for any changes in hearing. Unilateral hearing loss can remain stable permanently. Sometimes individuals develop hearing loss in the other ear later. With unilateral hearing loss the ear with hearing might be described as the “listening” ear or “better” side.  The ear with hearing loss could be called the “poor” ear or the “bad’ side. When a child with unilateral hearing has an earache it can make listening harder during that time. If any change in hearing health or listening levels is suspected, parents can obtain care and follow-up from ear specialists and audiologists. 

Communicating
A child with unilateral hearing loss can develop his listening, language and speech through typical early childhood activities including conversing with family, playing games, reading books and singing songs. Parents and teachers can watch to see if communication difficulties arise in certain situations. The child with unilateral hearing loss may have difficulty when there is background noise or several conversations happening at once.  How well a child hears all the sounds of speech can impact his own speech skills. Parents can be aware of typical hearing milestones and schedule an evaluation if there are questions about the development of a child’s communication.  If there is a delay parents can inquire about speech and language services.

Amplifying
Some children with unilateral hearing loss benefit from a hearing aid but others do not. For some children a hearing aid might provide better access to sound, increase localization, enhance listening in groups or improve hearing in background noise. When a hearing aid is suggested, families can provide it early to help a child develop stronger listening skills. If the classroom is noisy or the teacher is a distance from the child an “FM system” can be requested.  FMs amplify a teacher’s voice and carry that sound closer to the child. Parents can also make regular appointments to check devices, document ongoing benefit and review what technology can be useful for the child.

Positioning
A child with unilateral loss benefits when sounds occur near his hearing ear.  Noisy toys can be placed near the baby’s better ear. People can approach a toddler from his stronger side so he hears them coming. A child could sit with his listening side closer to the TV or media speakers. In a conversation he might sit with his listening ear close to one person who is talking, at the head of the table during family meals or at the end of a conversational half circle in school. In noisy and big places, the child can be closer to persons speaking or in quieter areas of the room. Parents can make changes in positioning for easier listening. 

Attending
Recognizing the direction of sounds (sound localization) can be challenging for a child with unilateral hearing loss. In some situations a child may not know if he is being called or from where. In group games, crowded events, noisy places and areas with traffic a child may have difficulty attending. Families can guide the child to get in the habit of listening closely and looking carefully in noisy or busy areas to be aware of what is going on around him. Whenever a child joins a new classroom, staff can make efforts to lower room sound and seat him away from noisy equipment. Parents can explain to those interacting with a child when it could be helpful to obtain his attention or repeat statements to increase his listening comprehension.

Accommodating
If a child demonstrates difficulty in learning, parents can discuss with teachers ways to enhance listening. The most useful listening distance is within six feet of a speaker. A child usually benefits from sitting so the ear used for hearing is closest to his teacher and classmates. For example, if a child has a left unilateral loss, he should sit so his right ear is closer to those speaking. In a semi-circle he could be seated at one end of the group, with the teacher and children on the side he uses to hear. A child who also relies on vision to supplement what he hears should be allowed to sit where he can see people and materials easily. Sometimes pictorial schedules, written directions or visual cues help a child keep up with the group routine.  Parents can ask for accommodations to support a child’s independent participation in play, day care and school settings.

Intervening
When a child is supported and acknowledged as capable, he can aim to achieve.  A child with unilateral hearing loss may appear to be managing but can still have challenges especially in school. Families can keep in close contact with teachers to look for any needs that arise and explore ways to help their child succeed. Protecting the hearing of the “good” ear is also essential. To support their child parents can:

  • Create many fun early listening experiences 
  • Observe how the child interacts and responds
  • Look for signs of listening or learning frustrations
  • Watch for changes in social and school behaviors
  • Realize distraction or disinterest could be listening difficulties
  • Discuss strategies with educators to support performance in class
  • Ensure when a hearing aid is prescribed that the child uses it full time
  • Reduce noise in classrooms (hamster cages, pencil sharpeners, corridor conversations)
  • Consider what services or accommodations can help the child achieve 
  • Keep volume of child’s personal electronic devices at moderate levels
  • Obtain effective ear protection for child in noise (earplugs, earmuffs, custom ear molds) 
  • Intervene across varied settings to create optimal listening experiences for the child 

Advocating
When families take actions for identifying, following up, communicating, amplifying, positioning, attending, accommodating or intervening they become advocates for their child. They can also encourage the child to identify when he can’t hear and what helps him listen better. Even a young child can begin to advocate for himself by saying when he does not hear, suggesting ways he can listen easily or requesting that people speak to his better ear.  As a child becomes a self-advocate he learns how to be a successful communicator and stronger learner. A child will take his cues from parents to view unilateral hearing loss as one aspect of his unique, wonderful self. 

 

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Hearing Loss and Listening Devices

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Children’s Hearing Milestones

Posted on December 17 2013, 2:21:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

A child’s hearing can be tested at any age and as early as a few hours after being born. In the U.S. it is estimated that 12,000 children are born each year with a hearing loss. Children also need to be screened regularly for hearing loss because it can occur any time for varied reasons. Undetected hearing loss in young children may cause difficulties in communication and learning. Parents can ask for their child’s hearing to be checked whenever there is a concern. If a child is not demonstrating typical hearing milestones evaluations done by audiologists can help identify if there is hearing loss. Early diagnosis and intervention can help with language, listening and speech! 

0-3 months
Recognizes parent’s voice. Reacts to loud sounds. Wakes slightly to nearby conversations.  Smiles when spoken to.

By 6 months
Responds to changing voice tones. Reacts to noisy toys. Begins looking for sound sources. Uses many speech-like sounds while babbling.

By 9 months
Responds to simple requests. Locates the direction of sounds.  Reacts to own name. Babbles different length sounds.  

By 12 months
Understands a variety of words. Imitates some speech sounds. Enjoys games such as peek-a-boo. Says first word(s).

By 18 months
Follows simple directions. Enjoys being read to. Points to some body parts. Uses more than six words. 

By 2 years 
Responds to yes/no questions. Understands meaning of many words.  Points to pictures on request. Uses two word phrases.

By 3 years
Understand many action words. Recognizes familiar melodies. Uses three-word sentences. Speaks clearly enough for family to understand. 

By 4 years
Follows two-step directions. Responds when called from another room. Uses sentences of four or more words. Speaks clearly enough for non-family to understand most of the time. 

By 5 years
Responds to varied questions.  Sings full songs and includes actions. Has a growing vocabulary. Uses detailed sentences.

 

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Development and Learning | Encouraging Language and Speech

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Learn to Listen Through Sound Fun

Posted on December 10 2013, 1:48:00 PM | Posted by jtcpals

Parents help children expand their listening skills by pointing out sounds. Toys, animals, actions, vehicles and other sounds can be explored when they occur. Families can also identify different sounds for their child to notice in their daily routine. Therapists may suggest specific sounds for listening experience. The list below can be used to create listening opportunities. Listening is fun to do together.

Toys     Actions  
Bubbles pop pop   Airplane aaahhh
Clown ha, ha, ha   Cowboy yahoo
Doll wa, wa, wa   Drip plop, plop
Shovel dig, dig, dig   Eating mmm
Top round and round   Falling down ouch
      Knock knock, knock
Animals     No no, no, no
Bear gr-gr   Raining pitter, patter
Bird tweet, tweet   Rocking la, la, la
Cat mmmeeeeooww   Running gg-g-g- gggoooo
Chick buk, buk, buk   Santa Claus ho, ho,ho
Cow mmmoooo   Sleeping sssshhhhh
Crow caw, caw   Slide whee
Dog bow wow, woof woof   Up up, up, up
Duck quack, quack   Walk walk, walk, walk
Horse (click tongue)   Wave bye bye, bye
Monkey hee, hee   Wind blowing whoosh
Owl hoo, hoo      
Pig oink, oink   Vehicles  
Rabbit hop, hop, hop   Ambulance woo, woo, woo
Rooster cock-a-doodle-doo   Boat p, p, p, (whisper)
Sheep baa, baa   Bus bu, bu, bu
Snake sssssssssss   Car beep, beep
      Helicopter wapa, wapa, wapa
      Siren oowar, oowar
      Train ch ch ch oo
      Truck bbrrr

Adapted from:

Estabrooks, W. (Ed.). (1998). Cochlear Implants for Kids. Washington, DC:Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf. Wilson, K. (2004, Oct.). Listen up! A model of auditory learning, games, activities, strategies, & techniques for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Presentation. Norfolk, VA.

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Fun Family Activities

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