How can I start communicating with my baby right now?
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 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
When most people hear the word “language” they think of languages such as English, Spanish, or other spoken languages. However, there are other languages such as American Sign Language (ASL), which are visual languages. Because you might not be familiar with these languages, there is a section about ASL in this Guide.
You will need to choose which language (or languages) and which building blocks you want for your child.
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.