Language is learned through hearing speech. Children pick up words they hear around them. To develop spoken language, children must be able to hear speech clearly and also to be able to hear themselves.
If a child does not hear enough speech at an early age they are unlikely to learn to speak. The earlier they begin hearing speech, for most of their waking hours, the more natural their own speech will be. In other words the longer they wear their processors each day, the earlier they will learn to use language.
A child with normal hearing will hear speech around them and spoken to them for about 10 hours a day. We therefore cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure your child is wearing their processor(s) for most of their waking hours, as soon as possible after they are switched on.
It is not enough for your child to simply wear their implants; they need to be hearing speech sounds too. Make sure you are chatting to them as you are playing and when you are out and about. Short simple sentences are best. Point out things that make a noise and get excited about them. Pointing to your own ear can be a good way of showing your child they should listen for a noise.
Make music with your child, sing songs and play instruments together – saucepans and spoons count as instruments too!
Have fun teaching your child to hear and listen! Helping your child learn to listen with their cochlear implant(s) should be a really rewarding experience, but it is hard work too! Children often resist wearing their implants to begin with and it can take a lot of work from the family to overcome this.
Your allocated keyworker will support you with listening activities for your child.
It will be easier for your child to understand and learn from you if you:
Let them see your face when you are speaking
Speak clearly at a normal pace and do not shout
Keep background noise to a minimum to make it easier for your child to hear your voice
Simple listening games you can play with your child
- Nursery rhymes
- Action songs
- I spy and many more
Signing and cochlear implants
One of the main goals of cochlear implants is to develop speech and learn language through listening skills.
Sign language can be a useful skill to learn. It can support their spoken language in difficult situations such as background noise and may allow them to communicate with other deaf children and adults, who may not have speech. If you would like support in teaching your child to sign, your local teacher of the deaf will be able to help with this.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.