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Deaf Children Can Learn to Listen and Speak Too – Auditory Verbal Therapy

More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. As this is a life experience that their parents are not exposed to, most of them would feel helpless about the future of their child and unsure of what to expect for the child’s development, education, job opportunities, social circles and etc.

There are a lot of communication options for children with hearing impairment including Sign Language, Cued Speech, Total Communication, Auditory Oral and Auditory Verbal. Auditory Verbal approach is an approach to encourage the child to communicate through listening and speaking.

What is Auditory Verbal Therapy?

The Philosophy of Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) is for children who are deaf and hard of hearing to learn to grow up in a regular environment that provides him to learn and socialise as others and grow up to be an independent, participating and devoting member of the mainstream society.

In AVT, AV therapist guides and coaches’ parents/caretakers to promote listening and speaking skills in the child with a naturalistic approach. This approach aimed to cultivate listening into the child’s personality. The child is taught to understand that sounds bring important and useful messages and he/she will respond to sounds like their normal hearing peers. Listening will be integrated to the child’s life that it will be one of the fundamental sources of information in their communication, education, recreation, social activities and at work.

The sessions are highly individualised to meeting the family’s and the child’s communication needs. The goals of the session are designed to help the child to build up their communication skills so that they can communicate with listening and spoken language. Targets of the AVT sessions would build on different components of communication including but not limited to AUDITION (ability to respond to sound and make sense of it), LANGUAGE (ability to understand and/or use the common symbols or representations like words to communicate ideas with others), SPEECH SOUNDS (ability to pronounce a sound/ word), COGNITION (ability to process knowledge like thinking, reasoning, problem solving) and SOCIAL SKILLS (ability to communicate and interact with others).

Therapist would lead parents to promote listening and spoken language with Auditory Verbal Strategies (AV Strategies). AV Strategies helps to enhance the quality of child’s listening and spoken language experiences and thereby accelerates the child’s communication development. Parents/caretakers are expected to assimilate AV strategies into their routine and use it at anytime and anywhere.

All AVT sessions should adhere to the Principles of Auditory Verbal Therapy.

  1. Promote early diagnosis of hearing loss in new-borns, infants, toddlers, and young children, followed by immediate audiological management and Auditory-Verbal Therapy;

  2. Recommend immediate assessment and use of appropriate, state-of-the-art hearing technology to obtain maximum benefits of auditory stimulation;

  3. Guide and coach parents to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language;

  4. Guide and coach parents to become the primary facilitators of their child’s listening and spoken language development through active consistent participation in individualised Auditory-Verbal Therapy;

  5. Guide and coach parents to create environments that support listening for the acquisition of spoken language throughout the child’s daily activities;

  6. Guide and coach parents to help their child integrate listening and spoken language into all aspects of the child’s life;

  7. Guide and coach parents to use natural developmental patterns of audition, speech, language, cognition, and communication;

  8. Guide and coach parents to help their child self-monitor spoken language through listening;

  9. Administer ongoing formal and informal diagnostic assessments to develop individualised Auditory-Verbal treatment plans, to monitor progress, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans for the child and family; and

  10. Promote education in regular school with peers who have typical hearing and with appropriate services from early childhood onwards.

Who provides Auditory Verbal Therapy?

Children with different types of severity of hearing loss who chose Listening and Spoken Language as their main communication mode could attend AVT as long as they are fitted with hearing devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants.

No infants are too young to attend AVT.

Human brain learns the best at infancy. Thus, children who are diagnosed with hearing loss should be referred to AVT immediately to maximise their potential.

Since parents are expected to carry over the goals and integrate AV strategies in daily life, AVT requires a high level of commitment from parents form an Auditory Verbal friendly environment for the child.

How does a typical Auditory Verbal Therapy Session look like?

AVT is a play and conversational based intervention. In order to develop listening and speaking skills in the child, games or routine activities are often used to implement the goals. These goals in the session were being discussed among the therapist and the parents so that all participants share the same target.

In the session, the therapist will continuously check the progress of the child and increase or decrease the complexity of the target according to the child’s performance. Parent would carry over the goals to strengthen the child’s skill on the targeted goal.

AVT sessions usually takes around an hour and will be held weekly or fortnightly.

How can I find a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist?

Please go on the AG Bell LSL Specialist directory via to locate your nearest LSL Practitioner.

Written by,

Hee Han Hui, LSLS Cert AVT

Speech-Language Pathologist

Auditory Verbal Therapist


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