Give Me Five!

You may already know how I feel about flashcards (spoiler alert: I hate them), but there is something to be said for repeated practice as a way to cement new skills. So how do we help children with hearing loss improve their articulation in a way that allows them enough opportunities to practice without resorting to drill-and-kill? Give me five!

Consider this scenario: A little girl with bilateral hearing aids is baking with her mother. One of the ingredients is cinnamon, which the little girl pronounces “cimmamon” (darn those trickily similar nasals /m/ and /n/ all mixed up in that multisyllabic word!).

STEP ONE: Catch and correct!

Once the adult communication partner (here, the mother) notices the child’s misarticulation, it’s time for a catch-and-correct. The adult can use strategies like the auditory feedback loop (“I heard you say cimmamon, but it’s cinnamon”) and acoustic highlighting (“Listen. The word is ciNNamon“) to help the child improve her production.

But that’s not enough! Modeling the word with acoustic highlighting helps the child lay down new “brain tracks” to build a correct internal model of how this word should sound, but it doesn’t give her an opportunity to practice the motor patterns necessary to produce the word correctly. So it’s time for step two…

STEP TWO: Give me five!

Now it’s time to move from perception to production. I like to build the child’s metacognitive skills and emphasize, in an age-appropriate way, that it’s all about the brain, by saying, “Let’s make sure your brain remembers that new word and say it a quick five times.” Then I hold up my fingers as the child practices saying the word correctly, 1… 2… 3… 4… 5!

The level of support necessary will vary by child and by word. Sometimes the child needs a model each time to practice the word. Sometimes we can provide a model for the first few attempts and then fade it out so the child produces the word independently. Sometimes the child is producing it correctly and independently from trial #1. If the child can get the word (with or without support), knock out a quick five to cement that motor pattern and auditory feedback loop and move on!

Two caveats to keep in mind:

No wrong practice! If the child is struggling to produce the word even with modeling and support, don’t have her practice it wrong five times. Dig deeper to find out where the breakdown is occurring and work on those prerequisite skills.

You know your child best. Sometimes they’re in the right mood for a catch-and-correct + give me five, sometimes they’re not. Don’t push it and make the communicative interaction unpleasant. Keep it light, fun, and focused on connection and success.

Moving forward, we’re going to take the information obtained from the child’s error (mistakes are such awesome learning opportunities!) and weave it into future activities for more practice, but the point of the catch-and-correct + give me five strategy is to help the child improve production, give a bit of practice to solidify the new skill, and move on.

Three Bears, Thirty Ways

When I coach other professionals, I tell them to work smarter, not harder!  I like to pick just one book and make it work for ALL of the children I see in a week.  My schedule is filled with listeners of all different ages, developmental levels, and needs, but with some creative thinking, you can take a classic story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and find a gold mine of goals inside.  Here are THIRTY ways to make the Three Bears work for (nearly) everyone on your caseload. 

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A Balanced Plate

 

Nutritionists advise diners to think about building a “balanced plate” of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables for every meal.  Eating too much of one thing isn’t good for your health!  An Auditory Verbal session can be imagined in the same way.  Too much focus on one type of goal or activity doesn’t help children achieve the well-rounded communicative competence that we want them to have.  So, how do you build a balanced plate in an AV session?

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Choose Your Highlighter

Acoustic highlighting is a key strategy in Auditory Verbal Therapy.  By changing the way that we present verbal information (for example, adding emphasis, repetition, or intonation), we can help children tune in to specific aspects of the signal, such as a new word or missed speech sound.  There are many different ways to acoustically highlight, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking they’re all equally good in every situation.  Just as you carefully choose colors to fill in a coloring page, be careful to choose the right highlighter for the job.   Learning that acoustic highlighting exists is just step one.  Here are some thoughts on how to take your highlighting skills to the next level!

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Considering Alternative Means of Expressive Communication

While learning to listen and speak is possible for many children who have hearing loss, there are some children who, for reasons of additional disabilities or other complicating conditions, can learn to listen with technology but may struggle to produce spoken language.  What choices should parents and professionals consider when deciding how to best help these children?  Below, I’ll discuss two case studies of children in this situation and some factors to consider when planning intervention.

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Learning to Listen Sounds

The cow says “moo,” the sheep says “baa,” and pretty soon the entire therapy room is sounding like a barnyard… but what are these Learning to Listen Sounds all about and why are week p-p-p-ing for the boat and woof-woof-woof-ing for the dog to help children learn to listen and talk?

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Auditory Verbal Strategies Survey

I am conducting a survey to investigate the strategies that professionals (and pre-professional students) use to facilitate listening and spoken language skill growth in children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Please consider participating in this study to further the knowledge in our field!  CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE.strategies-survey-marketing

It’s All About Listening/ It’s Not All About Listening

In Auditory Verbal Therapy, we want children to learn to listen all the time, but we don’t want them to focus just on listening.  We focus on audition, but we don’t focus only on audition.  Listening is an important factor, but it’s not the only factor.  So which is it — is AVT all about listening, or not? 

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Living Room Idol

Whether you love singing or wouldn’t be caught dead singing in the shower, singing is a terrific way to help your child with hearing loss learn important listening and spoken language skills.  You don’t have to be an award-winning singer to build your child’s brain through music. 

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Music, Art, Theatre, and Dance Lessons for Children with Hearing Loss

There are many benefits of music, theater, art, and dance education for all.  Arts education is linked to improved focus and behavior, academic achievement, higher SAT scores, and a host of other benefits.  The positive cognitive, creative, physical, social effects are undeniable.  But what about arts education for children with hearing loss? 

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