A child with hearing loss may visit the audiologist once every few months, or, for an older child, only for a yearly check up. In contrast, these same children often see their therapists much, much more frequently (an average Auditory Verbal Therapy family receives one hour of therapy each week). How can therapists (and teachers) partner with audiologists to make the child’s audiological information relevant each and every day, not just during periodic audiology appointments? We know hearing is the key to developing spoken language, so how do we make this information understandable and valuable to families each day?
The first question intervention professionals need to ask ourselves is: How many times per session do you refer back to the child’s auditory perceptual abilities?
For example, you could say to families:
She’s missing the /s/, maybe she doesn’t hear it. Let’s look at her aided thresholds.
He’s not getting past tense -ed. Let’s do some auditory discrimination to see if he is hearing it.
She’s having difficulty with th but we know she hears it, so it may just be developmental based on articulation norms for her age.
So how often should we refer back to the audiogram?
My answer: Every. Single. Session.
The audiogram needs to be a real, living document in the minds of everyone on the child’s team (parents and professionals). By helping parents understand how to interpret their child’s audiological testing and how this affects speech and language development, the audiogram starts to “live” every day, instead of just coming to the forefront ever three months or so during formal booth testing.
The more we can refer families back to the audiogram, the stronger the speech-hearing connection becomes in their minds. The more families can understand about how their child’s hearing affects speech and language abilities, the stronger advocates they will be for their child to hear his/her best.