For the average person, hearing sounds, learning to speak gradually over time, and being able to use language for everyday communication is a common progress. However, for the people with a hearing impairment, this can be a long and difficult journey.
With the aim of helping hearing-impaired children take advantage of the critical golden age of language development and oral communication that comes with early childhood, for the first time, we cooperated with the Department of Speech, Language Pathology and Audiology of Chung Shan Medical University (CSMU). We held a free hearing assessment and rehabilitation program for hearing-impaired children from disadvantaged families in the spring of 2022. This provided a total of 94 hours of rehabilitation courses for 17 children.
The program included hearing assessment, auditory memory assessment, auditory-verbal therapy, and consultation for the parents where they could ask about hearing rehabilitation strategies, hearing care, hearing aids, and audiological management. While the children’s hearing and speaking could be improved and adapt to day-to-day life better, the parents learn how to help and communicate with their children. It’s our wish this will help improve the language development of hearing-impaired children while reducing the stressful experiences of the parents in caring for them.
During the course, a webinar entitled, "Auditory-Verbal Development and Listening Skills for Infants and Toddlers with Hearing Impairment" was held for parents. Through the sharing of Assistant Professor Ju-Xiu Deng from the Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology of CSMU and Speech Therapist Yi-Jing Bian from Progress Speech Therapy Clinic, the parents understood that they can assess their children's hearing and language development based on three aspects: whether they can hear, whether they hear clearly, and whether they understand. Wearing the proper devices (hearing aids or cochlear implants), the child first needs to perceive and make meaningful contextual connections before the information heard can be transferred to the brain for cognitive purposes. Sometimes the same words have different meanings in different contexts, so hearing-impaired children must practice in a gradual and repetitive manner. During the practice, parents need to speak with their children at close range, speak at a slower pace, and talk in appropriate situations. Furthermore, giving natural gestures and eye/facial expressions to prompt their children's understanding of the conversation meaning is important in the context of the public environment. This is so that they can communicate fluently and smoothly. In addition, when the parents talk with their children, they encourage the children to speak more to express themselves. Parents should allow for more communication. This can mean waiting for the children to finish talking first. Parents should resist rushing, interrupt, or correcting the children. Parents should encourage their children to try and practice more. In this way, there are more opportunities for learning, applying language in day-to-day life, and together they can achieve the purposeful parent-child communication.
Some feedback from the participants:
“Thanks to the teachers for sharing the strategies. It made me think about what adjustments I can make in my future interactions with my child or in my teaching.”
“I hope to practice the auditory-verbal approach with my child and I hope to share my own practical examples in the future.”
The parents stated that the classes and courses were very useful. Furthermore, they were encouraged and supported. We are looking forward to similar services and classes in the future, so that parents can be empowered with more methods and strategies to manage the needs of their hearing impaired children. We also hope that both the parents and the children can continue to improve and achieve, so that at all times they can have confidence and hope for the future.