Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 6: Listening skills

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Chapter 6: Listening skills

With help, children who cannot hear well can learn to listen more carefully to the sounds they are able to hear. Understanding more about sounds will help them learn more about their world and will help them use their hearing better, protect themselves, be safer, and become more able to take care of their own needs.

Some children can hear a little when people speak to them. Many children who cannot hear well may be able to hear loud noises, even if they cannot hear softer ones. Or they may hear a low-pitch sound like thunder, even if they cannot hear a high-pitch sound like a whistle. But because the sounds do not make sense to them, they do not pay attention to them.

A girl speaking to a boy as they watch chickens.
Manuel, listen to the chickens!

If children practice listening, it will help them develop and use whatever hearing they may have. To use his hearing better, a child must:

  • notice sounds or voices.
  • figure out the direction the sound or voice comes from.
  • recognize what the sound is.
  • tell the difference between sounds.

A girl thinking as she holds her younger sister’s hand while they watch a boy kicking a can.
I wonder if Deepa turned her head because she heard that can?

This chapter has activities that will encourage a child to look, to listen, and to feel the vibrations of sound. The activities will help children who cannot hear well learn more about sounds. The activities will also help you find out whether a child has some hearing, and what kind of sounds and words the child can hear. This information will help you know if it would be better for your child to learn a spoken language or a sign language.

As you do the activities in this chapter, look for signs that show the child is listening to a sound. She might show she is listening by turning her head,changing the look on her face, moving her body, getting very still, blinking her eyes, or making a sound herself.

Praise her if she responds to sounds and words. If she does not respond, repeat the sound if you can. Try moving the sound closer to her rather than making it louder. Be patient. It takes time for a child to develop.

As you practice listening, try to notice background noise. Even pleasant background sounds might keep a child from hearing your voice or picking out the one sound you want her to hear. If the child uses a hearing aid, remember that hearing aids make your voice louder but make other sounds louder too, including background noise.

A small girl thinking as she watches her father speaking; 3 children are nearby playing drums and a tamborine.
Can you hear me, Azlina?
Azlina heard some of her father's words. But because of the noise the other children are making, she is not sure exactly what he said.