Hearing, Speaking, Living
Q: What is Auditory-Verbal therapy?
A: Auditory-Verbal therapy is a specialized type of therapy designed to teach a child to use the hearing provided by a hearing aid or a cochlear implant for understanding speech and learning to talk. The child is taught to develop hearing as an active sense so that listening becomes automatic and the child seeks out sounds in life. Hearing and active listening become an integral part of communication, recreation, socialization, education and work.
Q: How is Auditory-Verbal therapy different from other kinds of speech therapy?
A: Many therapists provide services to improve communication skills of children with hearing impairment. Some therapists teach American Sign Language, while others use total communication, cued speech, or techniques used in their community. Few professionals are certified as Auditory-Verbal therapists who are equipped for providing therapy sessions, parent training, and educational services needed to maximize the childs use of hearing as a primary sense for speaking and learning at school.
Q: Who provides Auditory-Verbal services?
A: Certified Auditory-Verbal therapists are specially trained for this. Some therapists are not certified but do follow the principles of the Auditory-Verbal philosophy. Talking to a prospective therapist will let you know his or her beliefs and practices; meeting children and parents from various programs will help you assess the appropriateness of a program for your child.
Q: Why aren't Auditory-Verbal services offered at my child's school?
A: Compared to other communication and teaching methods for deaf children, Auditory-Verbal management is relatively new. However, interest in mainstreamed services and auditory learning environments for hearing impaired children is growing with the advent of hearing aids with built-in FM receivers, cochlear implants and classroom amplification systems. Most teachers of the hearing impaired were trained before Auditory-Verbal management was understood and are unfamiliar with it. A critical role of the Auditory-Verbal therapist is to provide support services for school staff to meet the educational needs of each child. These can include classroom observations, in-service trainings, recommendations for language and curriculum modification, demonstration teaching sessions, etc.
Q: Can Auditory-Verbal services be used in conjunction with other methods?
A: The Auditory-Verbal philosophy is a set of principles designed to be followed to achieve maximum use of hearing for learning. It does not use formalized visual communication systems such as cued speech or sign language in training children. Research has shown that children who do not use sign language develop more sophisticated use of their hearing and speaking skills. Modifications to this approach are recommended on a case by case basis, taking many child, family and community factors into account.
Q: What age is best to begin Auditory-Verbal therapy?
A: No infant is too young to work with. As soon as the infant has been fitted with hearing technology, therapy should begin. Because the human brain learns most rapidly in infancy, these important years should be capitalized on by starting therapy and parent training immediately.
Q: How often should a child go to therapy?
A: In many cities, children receive one or two, hour-long sessions each week. Children and their parents participate in the sessions with the therapist. Families who are limited by distance may receive fewer sessions, such as one or two a month or less. The amount of therapy the child receives is not the main factor in a childs progress: rather, it is the amount of time the parents spend engaging their child in verbal dialogue that has the greatest impact on learning to talk.
Q: Is therapy covered by insurance?
A: This depends of the credentials of the therapist, the insurance policy and the state where the policy is in effect. Some policies are more likely to pay for therapy following cochlear implantation than for therapy with hearing aid users. Some will pay for therapy only to restore speech/language/hearing functions which were lost through injury or illness: others pay if the child was born with hearing loss.
Q: Is therapy covered by Medicaid and Medicare?
A: Check with your state Medicaid/Medicare offices. In some states the surgery and the therapy are covered, but it varies from state to state.
Q: What results can be achieved by using Auditory-Verbal management?
A: A generation of profoundly deaf graduates from Auditory-Verbal programs throughout North America have received careful study (Goldberg and Flexer, 1993). Even though the subjects were trained with hearing aids and did not have the advantage of cochlear implants, a vast majority are reported to have perceived themselves as fully integrated in the hearing community, received a mainstreamed education, did not use sign language, used the telephone to send and receive messages and pursued careers of their choice. Results of Auditory-Verbal training vary with the age of the child, presence of multiple disorders, parent participation, availability of appropriate services, type of educational programs, and other factors. The goal of Auditory-Verbal training is to maximize the childs use of hearing. Each child responds to this in a unique manner.
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