Throughout your journey navigating the world of hearing loss, you will learn about various paths that will teach language to your child. It may seem that some providers, family members, friends or even strangers have strong opinions about which option is right for your family. Remember, the decision is yours, and yours only, because your family will be the ones using this communication method day in and day out. Choosing a method is not black and white–there can be overlap and you can modify different options for what works for your family. We’ve listed below different options that may or may not interest your family.
- American Sign Language (ASL): ASL is a visual language. With signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information (National Association of the Deaf).
- Cued Speech: Cued speech is a visual mode of communication in which mouth movements of speech combine with “cues” to make the sounds (phonemes) of traditional spoken languages look different (National Cued Speech Association).
- Total Communication (TC): TC is philosophy of educating children with hearing loss that incorporates all means of communication; formal signs, natural gestures, fingerspelling, body language, listening, lipreading and speech. Children in TC programs typically wear hearing aids or cochlear implants. The goal is to optimize language development in whatever way is most effective for the individual child (Hands and Voices).
- Listening and Spoken Language (LSL): The LSL approach teaches a child spoken language through listening. LSL is a developmental approach which follows typical child milestones by introducing skills at the ages and stages when little brains are primed to learn (Hearing First).
There are numerous resources out there for families, and all it takes is a little googling or word of mouth to realize there are certified professionals and support groups for each communication option in your area.