How to Teach Less Visible Sounds to Children with Hearing Impairment

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1. Train auditory detection

  • Use a speech screen or put something in front of your face that won’t block too much sound
  • Give the child a buzzer or some way to indicate when they hear a sound
  • Pause behind the speech screen and then say a sound (any speech sound).  Encourage her to listen for the sound and then push the buzzer when she hears it.
  • Start with easier sounds (like loud vowels) and then start introducing the less visible consonants that she is not producing (like /k/, /g/, etc.)

2. Train auditory discrimination

  • Once you are sure she is definitely hearing all of the sounds, train her to respond only to certain sounds.  Start with ones she’s familiar with and is doing herself.  Tell her that she is only to push the buzzer when she hears that specific sound (like /b/).  Give her a visual of the letter so she remembers which sound to listen for.
  • Say /b/ and have her push the buzzer.  Then, say a different sound but don’t let her push the buzzer.  Point out to her that the sound was different than the target so she shouldn’t push the buzzer.
  • Keep doing this until she can correctly identify if you said an “easy” sound.  Then, switch and have her start picking out some of the harder sounds (like /k/ and /g/).
  • Alternatively, say two sounds and have her tell you if they are the same or different (like /k/ and /b/).  Start with sounds that are very different and gradually move toward sounds that are more similar.

3. Train sound imitation

  • Start by having her imitate sounds that are easy for her.  You say a sound, then she says it back.
  • Once she understands the activity, start including the sounds that are harder for them.  If she has trouble producing them, give her cues (tactile, visual, and verbal) to help her figure out where to put her articulators.  Do some articulator awareness education if she’s not sure what you’re talking about when you describe where to put something.