It's never too early to start thinking about helping your baby learn language. Without extra help, children with hearing loss have problems learning language. These children can then be at risk for other delays.
Families who have children with hearing loss often need to learn special skills to help their children learn language. These skills can be used together with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other devices that help children hear.
Many parents look for help in learning to use these special skills. There are several programs that can help parents and children, each emphasizing different language learning skills. Here are the five programs, and the skills that are sometimes included in each of them:
- Auditory-Oral — Natural Gestures, Listening,
Speech (Lip) Reading, Speech
- Auditory-Verbal — Listening, Speech
- Bilingual — American Sign Language, Finger Spelling, Natural Gestures
- Cued Speech — Cueing, Speech (Lip) Reading
- Total Communication — Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE), Finger Spelling, Listening, Manually Coded English (MCE), Natural Gestures, Speech (Lip) Reading, Speech
These five programs use a mixture of different approaches and skills.
You as a parent can look at these programs and choose the skill — or set of skills — that will help your child communicate. Some parents choose a single program because that's what works best for them. Other parents choose skills from two or more programs because that's what works best for them. You can also talk to your team of health care professionals about which program or programs will give your child the most success.
Because these skills are used to build language, we are going to call them "building blocks". Learning language is like stacking building blocks on a platform. The language is the platform and the skills are the building blocks. A family can pick and choose the building blocks that work best for their child and family. This section will introduce families to different building blocks.