FIRST YEARS > Listening & Spoken Language Development & Intervention Too Much Is Not A Good Thing
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Source: Talbot, P. (2002) Topics in Auditory-Verbal Therapy, p. 26. (by permission)
When you observe an Auditory-Verbal Therapist you may notice a lot of talking, but it is wrong to assume Auditory-Verbal means just talk, talk, talk. In fact, just talking a lot can actually teach a child how not to listen. If the child is not actively attending s/he may be getting more practice blocking out the speaker's voice. It is particularly difficult for a young child with limited comprehension to maintain auditory focus for lengthy monologues. Using natural, but enhanced, intonation patterns will help the beginning language learner attend to the speaker's voice to some degree. It is also helpful to add frequent and, at times, extended pauses to the interaction. The pauses give the child a chance to process what they have heard and potentially formulate a response. Even if the child does not have the ability to converse, the pause will mark the child's turn. A pause and an expectant look let the child know it is his/her turn. With more time and practice, the child will eventually learn to use the turn. Without the pause, the child might not feel the expectation to participate in the conversation.

If the adult is talking on and on without extended pauses, the child is getting a poor model of the natural give and take of conversation. Unintentionally, the adult is teaching the child how to monopolize the conversation. Even without such models, the child with hearing loss is at risk for inappropriately controlling conversational topics. This occurs because it is easier to continue talking than it is to listen to someone else or follow a topic change.

It is all too common for parents of children with hearing impairment to feel guilty when they are not "pumping in the language" during every waking moment. It is unfortunate that no one reminds them of the importance of "downtime". It does require a great deal of concentrated effort to facilitate verbal language development, but balance is essential. Balance of sound and quiet within each interaction; balance of sound and quiet over the course of a day; balance of work and play; and balance of interaction and time alone. Pumping in the language during every waking moment has the potential to result in a disinterested child and a burned-out adult. Children need time to explore and play independently. Adults need time away from the task of facilitating language development. When these needs are met both parties are more likely to enjoy the time they do spend working or playing together.

Along the same line, too much therapy and focus on speech and language has the potential to give the child an unbalanced perception of themselves. A well-rounded child learns that speech and hearing ability is only one aspect of who s/he is.

© 2002 Pamela J. Talbot, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, C.E.D., Cert. AVT. All Rights Reserved

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Alexander Graham Bell Association | UNC-CH Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences

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