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A site for parents of hard of hearing & deaf children.
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Tips to Promote Early Communication
Response developed at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School by: Bettie Waddy-Smith, Communication Specialist/Speech, Debra Nussbaum, Audiologist, Spring, 1998.

General reminders
  • Make your child feel good about communication. Try to make communication a positive experience for all involved.

  • Present information at a child's eye level ( i.e. stoop or sit on floor with toddler)

  • Make sure the child has a clear view of your face and hands. Be aware that dim lights or glare may make communication difficult.

  • Make communication experiences as natural as possible. Attend to what your child is saying first without interrupting the flow of communication for teaching correct production of a sign or correcting production of a speech sound.

Promoting Sign Language Communication
  • Try to sign as much as possible around your child even when you are not talking to him or her directly. Hearing children learn much of their language from "overhearing" communication all around them. Deaf children need to "oversee" language, too.

  • Even when you do not know a sign, gestures are a good substitute until you learn the correct sign.

  • When your child is looking at books or actively involved in play introduce the signs for what they are doing.

  • Do not continuously interrupt a child's natural play or involvement with looking at a book to sign to him or her. Wait until your child shifts their visual attention to you to demonstrate the signs.

  • Remember that it is necessary to repeat a sign many times and in many situations before a child may begin to understand that a sign represents a specific object or action.

  • Don't expect all of your child's signs to look just like the ones you are using. Each child's motor development is different. Just like there is "baby talk", there are also "baby signs".

  • Provide opportunities for fingerplay games with your child ( i.e. eensy weensy spider, waving your fingers in fun patterns for the child to see). When you feel your child is ready, encourage them to imitate your movements.

  • Play facial expression and body language games with your child ( i.e. imitate happy, sad, surprised) to promote their awareness that visual communication is available on the face and body as well as on the hands.

  • When you are signing, use a natural rate of presentation, not too fast and not too slow.

Promoting Spoken Language Communication

  • If a child has a hearing aid:

    • try to encourage it's use as much as possible when the child is participating in listening and speech activities.

    • change voice intonation to represent different characters in a story (i.e. low loud voice for father bear in the three bears), or add sound effects from the story ( owl whooing, horn beeping). Even if a child does not understand the words, he/she may gain information and enjoyment from these features.

  • During natural play and reading, provide your child with the spoken word for objects (i.e. ball, book, car) and functional words ( stop, more, bye-bye). Even if the child can not hear the words, they can begin to make associations that language appears on the lips.
  • Encourage and reinforce your child when they are using their voice in appropriate ways (i.e. to get your attention, trying to say words)

  • Discourage your child when they use their voice in inappropriate ways (i.e.: screaming for no reason, making noises that have no meaning and may be bothersome to others, making non- meaningful noises because it feels good to them)

  • When your child uses a voice that is too loud, use the sign for "quiet", or use the gesture for "shh, shh" (finger in front of lips). You may also want to place

    your child's hand on your throat when speaking for them to feel the difference between a quiet and a loud voice.

  • If your child is using a pitch that is too high or too low, indicate to the child that their voice is not appropriate by using the sign for high or low. Place your child's hand on your chest as you produce a low pitch and a high pitch for them to feel the difference. Next place your child's hand on his chest as they try to produce the pitch.

  • If your child is working on correctly producing specific speech sounds, do not interrupt natural communication to work on training these sounds or correcting the child. Be aware of sounds your child is working on. At a later time, praise the child for correctly using the sound, or practice production of that sound (do not overdo it). Work on this type of training in private places where the child will not feel embarrassed.

  • When you are talking to your child, present speech at a natural level, not too loud and not too quiet, not too fast and not too slow. Do not exaggerate mouth movements.

 

 

 
 

Help Kids Hear is a site dedicated to helping parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. We are parents of hard of hearing kids and simply want to "give back" to the community. We welcome your comments, questions & suggestions. Please drop us a note at info@helpkidshear.org.