If one of your children suffers from hearing impairment, you will want to choose the best therapies that allow him or her to enjoy a normal childhood and develop into a normal adult. If you’ve heard these two terms used, you may wonder what the difference is and which approach would best suit your child.
Both of these approaches have the following factors in common:
- They aim to assist the hearing impaired child to communicate with their peers using spoken language.
- For either of these approaches to be successful, early identification of the hearing problem is essential.
- Once the problem is identified, therapy should begin as soon as possible.
- Hearing aids or cochlear implants are used to enhance residual hearing ability.
There are, however significant differences in the approach to teaching and learning:
- In the auditory-oral approach, much of the focus is on speaking and sound production. The teacher uses different types of ‘modelling’ to show the child how to speak correctly. For example, a teacher may use the highlighting model to correct partially incorrect words or an Expansion model that fits in the gaps when a child skips a word or phrase.
- In the auditory-verbal approach, the focus on listening is much more important.
- In the auditory visual type of therapy, the family is intimately involved in the learning process, and at least one parent must attend therapy sessions so that they can learn how to continue the learning process at home. In this approach, the parent becomes the teacher. In the auditory-oral approach a speech therapist acts as the primary teacher.
- The auditory-oral approach encourages the use of visual cues like lip reading while the auditory-verbal therapy attempts to eliminate verbal cues so that the child is forced to cope with hearing alone and listening alone.
Which is better?
The more ability a child has in coping with hearing alone, the more able he or she will be to fit in to normal society, normal schools and later normal jobs. Visual cues can be helpful, but dependency on them becomes limiting in many ordinary situations where the speaker is, for example, faced away from the child and so on.
By involving the child’s family in the therapeutic process, auditory-verbal therapy transforms the learning process into a family affair that continues at home and isn’t merely classroom based. This optimizes learning owing to increased focus and more frequent attention.
Auditory verbal therapy has a greater focus on learning through fun, games and day-to-day activities. Since progress entails more positive rewards, children respond well to it. The auditory-oral approach has a greater focus on classroom learning and as such it is less effective as a teaching tool.
The more easy-going and natural approach of auditory-verbal therapy coupled with its elimination of visual cues makes it the best developmental solution for the hearing impaired child. However, if residual hearing is particularly bad, the use of visual cues and the more structured nature of the Auditory-Oral approach may be of help.
Attempt the high road first, and only compromise if you have to!