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Speech Language Therapy Needs for Cochlear Implant Recipients

October 20, 2003

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Question

I have questions about the ''quantity'' of speech and language therapy needed for a four year old who has had a cochlear implant for two years.

Answer

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 child's 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 child's 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.

Table showing stages of listening aligned with stages of speaking development

Bio Sketch:
Dr. Patricia Trautwein received her Masters Degree in Audiology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and her Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Florida. Patricia worked for several years as a research associate at the SUNY's Center for Hearing and Deafness Research. She joined the House Ear Institute as a pediatric audiologist where she was actively engaged in diagnostics, amplification, cochlear implants and research. Currently, Patricia is the Manager of Professional Education and Training at Advanced Bionics Corporation. Patricia has authored and co-authored several publications on auditory hair cell regeneration, auditory plasticity and cochlear implantation.


This article was originally published on our sister-website, ''Audiology Online'' (www.audiologyonline.com) and is republished here with permission. The editors of both websites believe this article has application for Speech Language Pathologists and is offered here for educational and academic purposes.


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