Speech Language Therapy Needs for Cochlear Implant Recipients

Many parents of children with cochlear implants have inquired about how much therapy is appropriate for their child. There are no fixed answers however. The population of children with cochlear implants is so heterogeneous that what is appropriate for one child is not always appropriate for another child.

Children develop speech and language in stages (see chart). The rate at which children progress through these stages varies. Children receive cochlear implants at different chronological ages and at stages of speech and language development. How a child progresses following implantation depends on many variables including age, hearing history, mode of communication, learning style and support. These same variables need to be considered when determining how much therapy is appropriate. There are several therapy approaches available today for families including; auditory-verbal; auditory-oral; total communication and cued speech. Each of these approaches differs in the amount of structured therapy recommended for each child. One consistent foundation across approaches is the importance for the goals and objectives of therapy be reinforced in the childs natural environment at home and school.

In order to best determine how much therapy is appropriate for your child, locate a therapist in your area with experience working with children with cochlear implants. Your cochlear implant center may assist you in identifying a local therapist. Additional directories are available through the following resources: American Speech Language-Hearing Association (www.asha.org); Auditory-Verbal International (www.auditory-verbal.org), Oberkotter Foundation (www.oraldeafed.org); Network of Educators for Children with Cochlear Implants (NECCI www.childrenshearing.org) or the National Cued Speech Association (www.cuedspeech.org). The therapist will be able to determine your childs current speech and language skills, as well as provide you with guidelines regarding the appropriateness of a therapy approach, amount of therapy and expectations for your child with a cochlear implant.

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