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Speech and Language Therapy with Deaf Children

Speech and Language Therapy with Deaf Children

"Speech and language services play a crucial role in promoting a deaf child's educational, social and emotional development by developing their communication skills"

NDCS 2008

In Wolverhampton we work with deaf clients in a range of environments.
These include home, nursery, school and clinic. We work closely as part of the Multi Disciplinary Team encompassing the client, family members and other professionals (e.g. Teacher of the Deaf, Audiologist, Cochlear Implant Teams, Associate Specialist). Beazley et al 2001.

The aim of intervention is to assess, diagnose and develop a programme of intervention to target areas of Speech and Language need for cochlear implant and hearing aid users including;

  • auditory training and listening skills
  • speech intelligibility and voice work
  • vocabulary building
  • following speech without sign
  • understanding and use of grammar
  • Semantics
  • parent-child interaction therapy and social skills work

"Over the last decades, technological advances such as neonatal screening, high-gain hearing aids, and cochlear implants have improved the potential for deaf children to develop and use spoken language" Blamey, 2003; Blamey et al., 2001; Spencer, 2004.
"To maximise the benefits of cochlear implants, children who have been implanted need greater support in producing intelligible speech and in understanding speech" NDCS 2007.

The mode of communication will vary for each client and will be dependent on their communication environment and conversational partner.

Modes of communication include:

  • BSL (British Sign Language)
  • SSE (Sign Supported English)
  • SEE (Signed Exact English)
  • Spoken English
Feedback from Parents

"Both of our children benefit enormously from Speech and Language therapy as these sessions give our children the opportunity to develop their communication skills, speech patterns and vocalisations via activities tailormade to their needs and abilities. As we (their parents) are both profoundly deaf we are unable to guide our deaf children to develop their spoken communication skills at home, hence the vital importance of the Speech and Language Therapist's input to our children's spoken language development in preparation for their lives in the hearing world. In addition our therapist has the BSL skills at a level in order to be able to understand and respond to our children's expressions/comments in BSL and introduce verbal language linking to what they have just said".

Key messages from a parental survey carried out by the NDCS in 2007 highlighted:

  • One of the things they most valued about speech and language therapy was the confidence it gave their deaf child.
  • Parents felt that joined-up working was of great benefit to their child and helped them progress towards their targets.
  • The deaf awareness of therapists was cited as a concern and an area to improve to enable effective communication with a deaf child.

NDCS response to Bercow review of speech language and communication needs - call for evidence
January 2008.

Blamey, P. J. (2003). Development of spoken language by deaf children. In M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language and education (pp. 232-246). New York: Oxford University Press.

Beazley S, Haldon J, Frost R. (2001) Working with Deaf Children in Kersner m and Wright J (eds) Speech and Language Therapy: The decision making process when working with children. Fulton: London.

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