Listening is a Key to Connection
By Hearing First Team May 16, 2017
When your child learns to listen, they aren’t just hearing, but making sense of what they hear, associating words and meaning, and finding out about the world around them… all through listening. This week, we’re focused on how your child’s listening can lead to learning goals. Read on to learn more!
Listen! What do you hear? All kinds of sounds impact your day in beautiful, exciting, and everyday ways. You might be on a busy street with cars and trucks rumbling by, airplanes soaring overhead, and birds chattering away in the tree. Are you in a coffee shop, listening to a friend talk about their day, the kitchen clanking and hissing with new drink orders, and the door swinging open with a steady stream of customers? Or maybe you are home with the familiar sounds of your child playing, the fan humming and spinning, and the radio quietly playing in the background.
At Hearing First, we are dedicated to powering children’s potential to enjoy listening to all of the moments in life. This month we’re celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month, part of a larger movement across the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This year’s theme is “Communication: The Key to Connection,” so we are highlighting the many ways you can help a child who is deaf or hard of hearing to succeed through communication.
The Importance of Listening
This week, we’re focused on how your child’s listening can lead to learning goals. For starters, it’s simply not enough for your child to wear hearing technology every now and then. They need to use technology during all waking hours to have exposure to sound and spoken language, participate in meaningful conversations, and learn to use auditory information to the fullest extent. When your child learns to listen, they aren’t just hearing, but making sense of what they hear, associating words and meaning, and finding out about the world around them… all through listening.
Babies with typical hearing have access to all the speech sounds, twenty-four hours a day. When awake, they’re always listening and that means they’re learning. It’s critical for brain development that babies hear you talking, singing, and reading in the early years. This is the way they learn to listen and talk.
For a baby with hearing loss, having consistent access to sound for those same listening and learning opportunities is just as important. So to avoid missing out on critical moments of interaction with you, remember: “eyes open, ears on.” If you are vigilant and making sure your baby’s hearing technology is on their ears and working properly whenever they are awake, it will help them access all of the sounds of speech. Keeping hearing technology on little ears can be quite a challenge, but in “baby time,” every minute counts!
Did you know that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen and talk? The diagnosis of hearing loss means something different today than it did thirty years ago. There are significantly more possibilities. Today, children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen and talk. They can achieve learning and literacy outcomes on par with their hearing friends. What good news!
Each small step on the path to listening and spoken language will make a huge difference, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Everything you do with your baby is progress, even during short moments like changing a diaper or making a snack.
- Make sure your baby can hear your voice and other sounds.
- Take time to talk, read aloud, sing, and play together.
- Attend and engage as partner in intervention sessions with your baby.
- Make sure your baby’s hearing test is up-to-date?
These daily habits place the emphasis on learning to listen as the critical building block to learning and teaching spoken language.
Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) strategies teach a child who is deaf or hard of hearing to learn spoken language through listening. The ability to listen involves auditory skill development, which means that a child is aware when sound is present or absent, can discriminate or hear the difference between sounds, identify the sound, and comprehend the meaning of sounds, words, and sentences. When you do this over and over again, these patterns can lead to the auditory skill development as the building block for your child to understand and use spoken language.
You get to be your baby’s first and best teacher. After all, if you talk, sing, and read to your baby who is deaf or hard of hearing, then you’re already on a great path to teaching them to listen and talk. Research shows that the quality interactions you have with your baby every day in the early years matters the most to grow your baby’s brain.
One critical technique is called “Audition First,” where you let your baby hear a sound before you show it to them. This provides ear contact before eye contact, which is critical to grow your baby’s brain for auditory skills and understanding spoken language. So talk about an object before you show it to them, start a song or fingerplay before beginning the motions, or talk about the page in a book before you turn the page. This will provide lots of opportunities for your baby to learn to listen throughout the day.
No matter where you are on the journey, you can find power in community. Join the Hearing First Family Support Community today and connect, share, grow and learn with others on the LSL journey. And share your stories on social this month using hashtag #BHSM and mentioning @HearingFirst in your posts. We’re excited to celebrate better hearing and speech with you, today and everyday!