Oct. 6, 2009 - For decades, cochlear implants have made it possible for children who are deaf to enter a hearing world. But hearing is just one piece of the communications puzzle.
Thanks to speech-therapy programs at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, children with cochlear implants are not only hearing the words that surround them, but also speaking them.
The center recently launched the Cochlear-implant Language Advancement Program (CLAP). The program is for children ages 18 months to 3 years who have been diagnosed with hearing loss, have received a cochlear implant and have language delays.
"Because children with cochlear implants miss a significant amount of listening and learning opportunities prior to implantation, they typically also experience a delay in speaking," said Shannon Raby, speech-language pathologist and program director. "We designed our program to give these children the extra boost they need to successfully communicate with their peers and family."
The program's speech-language pathologists engage the children in a variety of activities designed to encourage peer interaction.
"We do not use any visual communication - such as sign language - because we want the children to improve their listening skills as well as their speaking skills," said Raby.
Since family involvement is an integral part of any therapy program, CLAP includes a weekly parent training session.
"Parental involvement is vital in the development of a child's listening, language and speech skills," said Melissa Sweeney, cochlear implant program manager. "Since parents are the primary teacher for a young child, it's important that they feel equipped to work with their child and incorporate these skills into their daily lives.
The program is offered during the spring, summer and fall semesters. Parents interested in registering for the spring semester should contact Shannon Raby at 214-905-3134 or email@example.com.
The Callier Center is offering the program as part of the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program, a collaborative enterprise between UT Dallas, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center Dallas.