What is Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT)?

If your child suffers from deafness, auditory-verbal therapy may have been recommended. You may have received an initial explanation: therapists help you to teach your child to listen and speak by working with their residual hearing as well as amplifying it with the help of a hearing device. It sounds good, but now you have a few more questions.

The basics of AVT

Wouldn’t it be great if your hearing impaired child is able to attend a regular school that will equip them for a relatively normal life and career? That’s what you’re aiming for with AVT. The earlier you can detect hearing problems, the sooner you can start the therapy and the lower the impact will be on your child’s learning.

It doesn’t have to be a grimly serious process – in fact it shouldn’t be! Although you’ll be using the techniques shown to you by the therapist in your regular sessions, the learning process is designed to be fun, positive and rewarding for both you and your child. Together, you will teach and learn through play and of course, by speaking and listening to each other. See it as a great way to develop a closer relationship with your child rather than a grim duty.

Speaking and listening

Children with some residual hearing can get a hearing device, and that will certainly help, but AVT goes beyond that. How can the hearing skills be sharpened and developed to make up for the reduced sensory input? There are several techniques to be learned.

Remember that your child can’t hear his or her own voice properly. Poorly moderated voices are what gave deaf people the reputation of being ‘dumb’ too. AVT teaches hearing impaired children ways to moderate and monitor their voices so that they won’t be out of place in social situations.

To learn these skills, you and your child will be doing plenty of speaking and listening exercises, and you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need in order to provide guidance and feedback.

If all goes well, your child will be able to interact normally with his or her peers despite their hearing impairment. That’s worth an investment of time and energy from parents who’d like to give their kids the best possible start in life.

Common pitfalls

To clarify what AVT is, we also need to look at what AVT is not. Many parents fall victim to these pitfalls, and they’re all too easy to fall into. Here are some common errors you should avoid at all costs.

Using visual cues: Don’t use visual cues with your child. Real life won’t offer the same cues, and your aim is to equip your child with listening and speaking skills. Visual cues don’t fit into the picture at all!

Speaking very loudly: The temptation to pump up the decibels is a real one as soon as we know that someone is hard of hearing, but you don’t want your child to rely on overly loud voices for the simple reason that you want them to be as ‘normal’ as possible.

Using overly simplified language: Use the same vocabulary as you would naturally use. It’s all about learning skills that equips the child for a normal existence.

Playing ‘teacher’: We tend to think of the learning process as something that consists of regimentation, drills and teachers that simply observe and comment. Too much pressure will reduce your child’s learning ability. You are a participant, and you and your child are playing a really cool game.

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