Imagine your child just got fitted with their new hearing aids or cochlear implants by their audiologist. Their brain is trying to understand the new auditory information that is now being received! Everyone is so excited to see all the new sounds your child responds to and how the new sounds help their speech and language. However, putting on hearing aids or cochlear implants is not like putting on glasses. Knowing where to begin and what to work on with your child can be overwhelming for a family.
What is aural rehabilitation?
Aural Rehabilitation is teaching your child’s brain to understand the new auditory information that it is receiving from newly fitted hearing aids or cochlear implants. Aural rehabilitation can help your child make faster progress and meet their fullest potential by building new skills or re-learning skills that were lost because of their hearing loss. Aural rehabilitation aims to build a listening foundation of learning speech and language by teaching listening, articulation and spoken language. “Children talk as they hear” sums up the importance of aural rehab.
Who provides aural rehabilitation?
Speech pathologists provide aural rehabilitation as a part of speech therapy. Teachers of the Deaf and audiologists can also provide aural rehabilitation. These professionals completed specialized training to provide aural rehabilitation services to children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Why do children need aural rehabilitation?
Your child’s brain may not know what to do with the new information when hearing technology is first worn. By working in small steps during speech therapy, your therapist can teach you how to help your child make progress toward understanding all of the information they hear. Without aural rehabilitation, your child may make slower progress toward the goal of understanding more information and may also continue to be overwhelmed by the new information they are hearing.
When do children need aural rehabilitation?
Aural rehabilitation is usually performed during the time after amplification is fitted or if your child experiences a change in their hearing. You can start aural rehabilitation as soon as your child is diagnosed—as young as a few weeks old. After amplification, your child’s brain is working hard to figure out what the new information means, and it is important to help your child make connections as quickly as possible.
Can my child benefit from aural rehabilitation if they use sign language?
Definitely! Aural rehabilitation focuses on listening goals. People who use sign language may want to improve their listening skills or better understand the information they are getting from their technology. Speech therapists can utilize your child’s primary language to help them understand the tasks they are working on through listening.
How long does aural rehabilitation last?
Every child and brain is different. If your child had hearing loss for a long time before they received hearing technology, they might need to work on aural rehabilitation goals for several months—sometimes even up to a year. In other cases, children master all of their aural rehabilitation goals in a few months. They might be done with therapy after that or they might continue in speech therapy to work on their other speech and language or communication goals.
What does aural rehabilitation look like?
Helping your child learn to listen can be really fun! Speech pathologists use games and activities chosen specifically to help your child master bite-sized parts of their overall goal. They provide help with harder tasks by teaching your child what to listen for and by using strategies to cue your child to help them be more successful with each turn.
How can I help my child during aural rehabilitation?
Since your child spends most of their time with you, your speech therapist will also teach you how to work with your child at home. By participating in your child’s therapy session, you can learn ways to work on their goals during everyday situations at home. You should practice the tasks your therapist gives you several times a week so that your child will make improvements between therapy sessions. Children who practice their goals at home usually make more progress than children who only practice when they come to therapy. Remember to make note of anything that is particularly hard for your child so you can discuss it with their therapist.
Can my child receive aural rehabilitation through virtual speech therapy?
Yes! Aural rehabilitation sessions can be scheduled for in-person or virtual speech therapy. A special cord or hearing assistive technology, such as a remote microphone, may be needed to help your child listen through the computer. You can ask your audiologist or speech pathologist for help with this set up. After your child’s devices are connected to the computer, speech therapy can help them make progress toward their goals with games and activities just like they would use in an in-person therapy session.
To schedule aural rehab services at Texas Hearing Institute, please click here.