Joanna L. Stith, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Listening and Spoken Language Therapist/ Auditory-Verbal Therapist?
Auditory-Verbal therapists are professionals who have been trained in one or more of the disciplines of speech pathology, audiology, and education of the deaf. They recommend an Auditory-Verbal treatment plan as the first option for developing a speech, language, and education program for hearing-impaired children. Auditory-Verbal therapists seize the auditory component of any life experience and promote and develop the use of sound for speaking and understanding spoken language.
Listening and Spoken Language therapists have expertise in the use of acoustic emphasis of speech sounds and language patterns for the purpose of maximizing the hearing-impaired child's verbal development. The guiding principle applied by a Listening and spoken language therapist is that all therapeutic and education decisions lead to the hearing-impaired person's maximum participation in the hearing-speaking society. (From www.VoiceForDeafKids.com)
How is Listening and Spoken Language Therapy different from other kinds of therapy?
Many therapists provide services to improve the communication skills of children with hearing loss. Some therapists teach American Sign Language, while others use total communication, cued speech, or techniques used in their community. Few professionals, approximately 800 in the world, are certified Listening and spoken language therapists who are equipped for providing therapy sessions, parent training, and education services needed to maximize the child's use of hearing as a primary sense for speaking and learning at school.
Who provides LSL services?
Certified Listening and spoken language therapists are specially trained for this. Some therapists are not certified but do follow the principles of AVT and have received specialized training in its approach. Talking to a prospective therapist will let you know his or her beliefs and practices; meeting children and parents from various programs will help you assess the appropriateness of a program for your child.
Why aren't Listening and Spoken Language services offered at my child's school?
Compared to other communication and teaching methods for deaf children, Auditory-Verbal management is relatively new. However, interest in mainstreamed services and auditory learning environments for hearing impaired children is growing with the advent of hearing aids with built-in FM receivers, cochlear implants, and classroom amplification systems. Many teachers of the hearing impaired were trained before Auditory-Verbal management was understood and are unfamiliar with it. A critical role of the Auditory-Verbal therapist is to provide support services for school staff to meet the educational needs of each child. These can include classroom observations, in-services recommendations for language and curriculum modification, demonstration teaching sessions, etc.
Can Listening and Spoken Language services be used in conjunction with other methods?
The Auditory-Verbal philosophy is a set of principles designed to be followed to achieve maximum use of hearing for learning. It does not use formalized visual communication systems such as sign language and cued speech. Research has shown that children who do not use sign language develop more sophisticated use of their hearing and speaking skills. Modifications to this approach are recommended on a case by case basis, taking the child, family, and community factors into account.
What age is best to begin Listening and Spoken Language Therapy?
No infant is too young to work with. As soon as the infant has been fitted with hearing technology, therapy should begin. Because the human brain learns most rapidly in infancy, these important years should be capitalized on by starting therapy and parent training immediately.
How often should a child go to therapy?
In many cities, children receive one or two, hour-long sessions each week. Children and their parents participate in the sessions with the therapists. Families who are limited by distance may receive therapy via tele-health or fewer sessions, such as every other week. The amount of therapy the child receives is not the main factor in a child's progress; rather it is the amount of time the parents spend engaging their child in verbal dialogue and language learning!
Is therapy covered by insurance?
This often depends on the credentials of the therapist, the insurance policy, and the state where the policy is in effect. Some policies are more likely to pay for therapy with hearing aid users. Some will pay for therapy only to restore speech/language/hearing functions, which were lost through injury or illness; others pay if the child was born with a hearing loss.
What results can be achieved by using Listening and Spoken Language Management?
A generation of profoundly deaf graduates from Listening and Spoken Language programs throughout North America have received careful study (Goldberg and Flexer ,1993). Even though the subjects were trained with hearing aids and did not have the advantage of cochlear implants, a vast majority are reported to have perceived themselves as fully integrated in the hearing community, received a mainstream education, did not use sign language, used the telephone to send and receive messages and pursued careers of their choice. Results of Auditory-Verbal training vary with the age of the child, presence of multiple disorders, parent participation, availability of appropriate services, type of educational programs, and other factors. The goal of Auditory-Verbal training is to maximize the child's use of hearing. Each child responds to this in a unique manner. (From Hear in Dallas, Co.)