The PAW Strategy for Structuring Your Session

Therapists (hopefully!) spend a lot of time carefully planning goals and activities for each Auditory Verbal Therapy session, but professional planning is not enough.  Parent coaching is the heart of AVT.  It is not enough for you, the professional, to know what’s going on.  Parents deserve this information, too!  Below, I’ll detail a strategy I came up with called “PAW” that can help you structure your sessions for maximum engagement.

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“Minimally Invasive Therapy” (Rethinking Equal Talk Time)

When I began studying auditory verbal therapy, one concept I learned was the “equal time pie” or “equal talk time,” — the idea that all three participants in an AVT session (child, parent, and therapist), should each be doing roughly 1/3 of the talking during the session.  For years, I tried to self-monitor during my intervention to make sure this was happening.  But then I started teaching students about AVT at the university level.  After weeks of hearing me drive home the point that families are their children’s first and best teachers, one student raised her hand and asked a question that revolutionized the way I think about sharing talk time in sessions…

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Provider Quality Checklist

When you have a child with hearing loss (or any disability), you are instantly thrown into the deep end of new jargon, appointments, professionals, and more.  When a therapy or early intervention provider is assigned to your family, how do you know if who you’re getting is any good?  They’re supposed to be the expert in this, so how are parents who are new to this whole world supposed to know if they and their child are getting what they deserve?

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Use Your Voice, Make a Choice

Young children love to be in control (who doesn’t?).  Think about it: so many aspects of their lives are decided for them — what and when they’ll eat, where they go each day, when they take a bath, etc.  For children with hearing loss, parents may tend to be even more directive, giving short, simple commands to head off any misunderstandings by a child with limited language.  But challenge yourself!  Giving choices can help meet an important developmental need while growing language skills as well!

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A Figure of Speech

Figurative language: idioms, metaphors, similes, and the like, can be one of the most difficult aspects of language for English language learners, and children with hearing loss, to master.  How can we help children learn, understand, and use nonliteral language in a way that is natural?

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DO Try This At Home

If you provide services to families in the home or via teletherapy, you have the advantage of helping them apply AV techniques to their natural environments in real time.  But that’s not always possible.  How can center-based clinicians or teachers make what they do with families “translate” once the families leave their clinic or school?  How can we make center-based services realistic for parents?

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This Is Hard.

Hearing loss is a neurological emergency.  If parents choose a listening and spoken language outcome for their child, time is of the essence, and the to-do list is immense: get a full audiological evaluation, fit hearing technology, aggressively manage that technology to make sure it’s doing what it should, make sure the child wears the technology all waking hours, find a good Auditory Verbal Therapist, attend therapy, talk talk talk, read read read, sing sing sing, advocate, fight with insurance, learn a bunch of new jargon, talkreadsing some more… and, oh, don’t forget all of the other responsibilities of your life, either.  They’re still there, waiting for you at the end of the day when you’re exhausted and never want to talk, read, OR sing another word in your life.

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