The Wheel That Makes LSL Go Round!

By Hearing First Team October 22, 2015

LSL Day by Day | listening and spoken language, powering potential, LSL outcomes, parent advice, LSL plan

Learn why the LSL journey is more like a wheel than a straight path. Then see how it can be a helpful roadmap of what it will take to help a child with hearing loss reach the best outcomes.

When we first started talking to families about their Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) journey, we noticed that there were definitive steps on the path that seemed to come up again and again. These steps may not be taken in the same order as no two journeys are the same — but we saw them consistently enough to notice a LSL roadmap coming into view. Whether it was the initial hearing screening, the diagnosis of hearing loss, or enrollment in early intervention — again and again we saw a pattern play out moving families from where they were to where they wanted their child to be.

All metaphors break down at some point, and for us, we realized that the term “journey” infers a fixed beginning and an end; a starting point and a finish line. But as any parent can tell you, raising a child (with or without hearing loss) knows no finish line. It’s an ongoing process with loops along the way!

When the parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing says, “I want my baby to listen and talk,” their next question tends to be: “What will it take to make that happen?” We began to see this roadmap as a helpful answer to that question. So we’ve created a tool that captures that path.

You’ll notice that it looks less like a journey and more like a wheel. That’s intentional! A wheel has no real end-point. Rather you circle back again and again on a process that continues on towards your destination.


If your baby has been diagnosed with hearing loss, there is a clear and proven path you can take to reach the most successful LSL outcomes.


Wheels are great for creating and sustaining momentum. They carry you to your destination if they are taken care of consistently. In fact, when one of the wheels on your car becomes flat, it’s typically because there’s a puncture in the tire — a place along the wheel that has become compromised and needs to be attended to.

There’s no such thing as a tire where one or two parts have leaking holes, but the rest of the tire is strong and unaffected! No, if one part of the tire isn’t strong, the whole thing goes flat. At best you’re in for a bumpy ride. At worst you’ll find yourself broken down altogether. Your progress toward your hoped-for destination will be slowed if not sidelined altogether.

It’s the same with the process of helping your children grow through listening and spoken language. You’ll find that you need to continually revisit steps in the process to keep the wheel strong and moving forward. For instance, a hearing evaluation isn’t a “one and done” occurrence. You may need to get your child’s hearing rechecked to ensure that the hearing technology is providing your child’s brain access to all the sounds of speech. Based upon your child’s hearing loss and their progress in learning to listen and talk, different hearing technology or a different early intervention professional may be needed.

This Listening and Spoken Language wheel can be helpful in a few distinct ways:

  • For those who are considering or beginning the LSL journey…
    It can be a helpful roadmap of what it will take to help your child reach the outcomes you are hoping for.
    Practical application: You may consider taking it to your child’s next appointment and saying, “Ok, I need to make sure we have a plan for all these points.”
  • For those who are already on the LSL journey…
    It’s designed to refresh and remind you of what it takes, so that you can make sure all areas of the “wheel” are attended to.
    Practical application: You may review the wheel to refresh yourself on steps you haven’t taken in a while or sit down with your professional partner to highlight a place you’re not feeling as confident about.

For hearing loss professionals and early interventionists, the wheel can be helpful to share with families you are working with who may find themselves in either camp. Consider saving the wheel on your mobile device or printing it to share with your clients as they consider LSL. To access this tool or to read more about Listening and Spoken language, visit LSL: What It Takes.

LSL Day by Day | listening and spoken language, powering potential, LSL outcomes, parent advice, LSL plan

About the Author

Hearing First Team At Hearing First, we want all children to benefit from the availability of newborn hearing screening, the advances in technology, and the early learning services in their communities. We want all children to have the opportunity to take advantage of access to sound – a critical building block for future success.