- Some general points
- How you can be a good listener
- How to help your child be a good listener
Your child now has a cochlear implant and has received their speech processor. What can your child hear and how can you help your child now?
All children both hearing and hearing impaired need to learn to listen. Your child can do this by using their speech processor.
Your child’s speech processor must be switched on and in working order. You will soon be confident about checking the processor, leads and head set. Your implant centre staff will support you here.
Your child needs to wear their processor every day, all their waking hours.
Your child will learn to use their speech processor if they NEED to. If they can listen to spoken language they will learn to understand it and use it.
Learning to listen effectively is more likely to happen in real-life, meaningful situations rather than by repetitive drills. Try not to test your child all the time, they could lose their motivation to listen.
Most children begin with conservative settings in their processor so their reactions to sounds vary. ALWAYS talk through any concerns you have with the implant centre staff who will try to reassure you and provide explanations. Talk to other parents who have children using cochlear implants.
Your involvement and support for your child is VITAL. You can help them get the best from their cochlear implant.
You know that communication is a 2-way process. We talk to new born babies as though they understand us and we think of their smiles and gurgles as them talking back to us. We take turns in conversation and taking a turn in a game is a way of learning this.
Already you will have developed ways of communicating with your child. Now your child has a cochlear implant you can have conversations together as a speaker and listeners.
If you are a good listener you can help your child become a good speaker.
Give your child your attention if they are trying to say something. If they are trying to use their voice, making sounds, say ‘I can hear you’, nod your head to encourage them to go on, try to understand and try to respond to what they’re saying. Don’t be afraid to guess, the child will let you know if you’re wrong.
Put words to the routines of day-to-day life. Talk about sounds or everyday activities. Your child will need lots of repetitions before he understands.
Try to get their attention first. Say their name. It’s better to be near to your child rather than far away. It’s even better if you can be opposite each other in a quiet room. If they don’t respond try being very still or hold an object that your child is interested in near your face. They will often follow it. Once the child is looking at you say something – because you are rewarding the look even if it is only brief.
AS A SPEAKER you can give your child the words they need by putting words with actions. Make your meaning clear. Be consistent. Use your face and body to back up what you say. If you expect your child to listen it will become part of their everyday routine. Be confident, use the opportunity the speech processor can give your child.
You will have your own expectations and hopes about what the implant can do. Most implant users do experience improved hearing. However it is impossible to predict beforehand how well any one person will do with the implant. The amount of benefit varies from person to person. Do not expect ‘normal’ hearing. Some situations might still be difficult eg background noise.
There is a range of benefit: some CI users can talk on the phone, others cannot. For others, the implant provides only improved lip-reading. As time goes by you may have to adjust your expectations upward or downward.
- Relearn the trick of concentration. Pay attention. Listen.
- Avoid pretending you have understood what was said.
- Do not be afraid to ask people to repeat, rephrase, or speak louder or more slowly.
- Remind people to speak directly to you and to look at you when they speak.
- Watch the speakers. Pay careful attention to the lips, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. Position yourself to take advantage of good lighting.
- Realise that hearing in noisy places is a problem for all listeners.
- When listening over the telephone, position the receiver carefully over the microphone of your speech processor or use the telephone adapter.
Remember – talk to your implant service and they will give you guidance and support to help you develop your listening skill. You can improve with practice.