GAMES AND LISTENING EXERCISES
When a baby is born and many tests confirm profound hearing loss, sooner or later we meet right surdo-specialist (speech and language therapist for the hearing impaired). They reassure that with proper listening exercises and working with our child will help our deaf/hearing-impaired child learn what is a sound and they will use a verbal language. All this sounds beautiful, and although it's just words, they have significant power. They are supported by years of experience and practice of therapists. But what do fun and listening exercises really mean for parents who know nothing about it? Everything and nothing in the same time...
In this post you will find a few examples of games for children of different age (from newborns to preschool or early school).
The youngest children who have just been born surrounded by silence must first of all learn that there is such a thing as SOUND. How do we get there?
It is important at this time to carry the child, talk to them, singing songs, drawing their attention to lips (e.g. by wearing red lipstick) so that the child has a chance to observe where the sound comes from. It is also important to place child’s hands on our larynx while singing or speaking. Parents need to break down certain barriers. Some people may think that such actions do not make any sense because the child is... deaf. However, we NEVER know what exactly our child can hear, what or how they feel... such actions are an introduction to further rehabilitation.
Dancing to the rhythm of music and halting when the music stops is a perfect game for younger children. During the game we point to our ear to show the child when the sound appears or when there is no sound at all. Any exaggerations in facial expressions and gestures are really a plus and if they get the child's attention it is a great sign.
Showing the child the sounds and telling them about them is also important. Example? We turn on the faucet and point on the ear ‘Can you hear that? It’s the sound of water’. Of course, we repeat it many times by showing the child different sources of sounds.
With older children, an extremely important game is throwing blocks into the box after every sound they recognize. We can check what sounds our child is already responding to. Next, the child can repeat a sequence of sounds, e.g. hitting the drum once, twice in the xylophone, once in a pot or a metal can. The choice of sounds is free—it is about checking and practicing the child's auditory memory.
LOCATION OF SOUNDS is also important. One can play hide-and-seek and call the child from your hiding spot. Hiding the speaker for the child to find is another way of playing together. To a preschool child, who is slowly developing their speech, we can play different sounds from the speaker and ask questions ‘What is it?’. You can also use pictures presenting various activities e.g. vacuuming, brushing your teeth, a child's laughter, or applause of a crowd...
As you can see, ‘auditory exercises’ sound serious but if we approach them as learning while playing it can be an outstanding success. The key, however, is repeating these activities regularly and consistently. We cannot expect to see the results after the first or even the second time. But if we are patient, one day we will see the effect - our child will react as expected or do the exercise correctly.