LSL: What It Takes
Many children who are deaf or hard of hearing, even those who are profoundly deaf, can learn to listen, talk, and read if they start early enough. At this point, you may be thinking, “I want my baby to listen and talk,” and then wondering, “What does it take?”
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR DREAMS ARE FOR YOUR CHILD’S FUTURE
Think about your baby’s ears as a doorway to the brain. If your baby’s ear/doorway is open then it can deliver auditory information to your baby’s brain. This means that if your baby has hearing loss, they need to be fit with the right hearing technology as soon as possible. That way their brain will have access to the sound it needs to begin to learn the language of your home through listening.
A future of listening and talking is possible for most babies and what you do today counts for tomorrow.
Begin by thinking about your answers to two key questions:
- What are your dreams for your child’s future?
- What do you know about your child’s hearing?
Your answers will help you make the best decision for your child. If the answer to the first question is something like, “I want to help my baby learn how to read, go to school with his hearing friends, and talk to his grandparents, family, and friends in our community,” then you’ve already taken the first step on the path to helping your child achieve that dream.
For the second question, you’ll need to know all you can about your baby’s hearing loss and an audiologist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician can help answer your questions and give you more information.
Your answers to both of these questions will guide your decisions about using a LSL approach.
What Does Your Child Need to Listen & Talk?
If your baby has been diagnosed with hearing loss, there is a proven path you can take.
- Access To Sound
For most children with hearing loss, a hearing device will improve their access to sound. Your baby must be fitted with the right hearing device(s) as early as possible to learn to listen and talk.
This is not the time to “wait and see.” Act quickly and make an appointment with a pediatric audiologist so your baby can begin hearing speech sounds. For a baby to learn language, the hearing devices need to be worn and turned on during all waking hours. Why? Studies prove that children with hearing loss learn language more effectively by listening during all waking hours.
Children learn language by listening, even if they can’t understand the meaning of the words yet. As a baby mimics what they hear, their babbling eventually forms into words.
Work with your pediatric audiologist to make sure that your baby’s hearing devices fit and function properly. They’ll teach you to care for the devices, how to put them on your baby, and what to do if the device is not working. For the best results, you’ll need to go back for many appointments in the first years of your baby’s life in order to make sure that they can hear well.
Finally, you’ll need to teach the people who care for your baby about the hearing devices and what they can do to help.
- Start Early Intervention
In addition to getting the hearing devices fitted for your baby’s hearing loss, you’ll need to enroll in early intervention.
Professionals who specialize in helping babies with hearing loss believe that parents should attend intervention sessions with their baby. As your baby’s first teacher, you’ll learn exactly what to do. There are strategies and techniques you’ll practice at home every moment that you are with your baby, which is the most valuable part of their development.
Specifically, you‘ll learn to pay attention to the sounds around your baby, and you’ll learn the best ways to talk, read, sing, and play so they continue to grow and learn. Your LSL early interventionist will also teach you how to make listening easier.
SMALL STEPS TO BIG PROGRESS
Each small step on the path to listening and spoken language will make a huge difference, even if it doesn’t seem like it. In fact, every little thing you do with your baby, even during short moments like changing a diaper or making a snack, will be progress. Just keep your eye on the goal and continue to take each step along the journey, knowing that you’re doing what it takes to teach your baby how to listen and talk.
Doing all the right things all the time isn’t always easy. Life happens and there are times when we all get distracted. If you ever get discouraged, seek support from other parents who are going through the same experiences, talk to your interventionist, and ask for help from your family members and friends. Their support can help you do what it takes.