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Tips for parents

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

Try to become more aware yourself of the sounds around you. People who can hear often ignore sounds because they have become so familiar. They also know when to take more care, because they can recognize sounds that can mean danger.

A man thinking as he stands in a busy urban area with noisy cars and motorcycles going by; he watches a boy walking near the traffic.
Paulo would be safer if he could hear the car horns.
Listening skills are important for all children who cannot hear well. Children will be safer if they learn to use whatever hearing they have.

A man thinking as he holds a drum and faces a young child; a flute is on a table beside him.
I wonder if Asha will hear the drum or flute better.

Try to adapt the activities in this chapter so that your child is working with sounds she can hear. For example, if you know she can hear low-pitch sounds but not high ones, use sounds with low pitches when doing the activities. (See Chapter 5 for ways to learn what sounds your child can hear.) If you are not sure what sounds your child can hear, try different sounds.


Ways to help your child notice sounds

  • When you hear a sound nearby, show your child that something is happening. Encourage her to look toward the sound.
A man speaks as he kneels beside a young child and points to the sky.
Look, Sayaka, up in the sky! It's an airplane.
  • Let your child play with toys that make noise. From time to time, call her attention to the sound. If the toys do not make a lot of noise, tie something that makes noise, like a bell, onto the toy.

A woman speaking as she points to a drum her daughter is beating.
That's a loud noise, Radha!
  • Find sounds you can start and stop. Let your child know that something is about to happen and then make the sound. Repeat the sound several times. Try pointing to your ear when a sound is made. This will help your child know when a sound is made.
  • Make up games in which your child needs to listen to sounds in order to play.

HCWD Ch6 Page 62-3.png
While they hear the drum, the children dance.
HCWD Ch6 Page 62-4.png
When the music stops, everyone falls down.

Ways to help your child notice people's voices

A man speaking as he carries his baby.
You're getting to be such a big girl, Efra.
  • Talk to your child as you hold her close. When she is touching your chest, neck, or cheek she will feel some vibration from the sound of your voice.
An older girl speaking as she bathes a small girl in a tub.
Rub-a- dub- dub.
  • As you do things with your child, make up sounds that go along with the activities.

  • Say her name often.
A man speaking as a young child walks toward him.
Juana! Come to me, Juana.
A woman speaking as she holds her daughter in her lap.
Once there was a little
girl named Seema...

  • When your child knows her name, use her name in songs and stories you make up. This will help catch her interest.

  • Talk with your child as often as you can. Use your voice in different ways. Try stretching words, and add high and low pitches. Use words that have opposite meanings.
A man speaking as picks a baby up and puts him back down.
Up... up... up...
...and dowwwwn.
A word that stretches a sound ('dowwwn')in contrast with an opposite short word ('up') gives sound clues that help young children understand.

How to learn the direction a sound comes from

Children first learn to locate sounds that happen near their ears. Then they learn to look for the source of sounds that are above or below their ears. Then they
A boy shakes a noisy toy above the head of his little sister.
look for the source of sounds that are farther and farther away. Finally, children learn to look for the source of sound that is behind them.

  • If your child is interested in a noisy toy that you are sure she can hear, try moving it out of sight. Then make the noise again above her ears and see if she will turn her head to search for it. When she has learned to do this, make noise below the level of her ears. Finally, make a noise behind her.

A boy shakes a noisy toy in front of his little sister.

Try to be patient, because it can take several months for a child to turn toward sounds. When she responds some of the time (even if not all the time), you can move on to the next step.

A woman sits with a small boy in a garden and cups her hand behind her ear as a motorcycle goes by.

  • Change the expression on your face, or call attention to the sound with a gesture — like pointing to your ear and then to what is making the sound.
A woman speaking to a young child as she shakes the pocket of her apron.
What's that sound, Lupe? Where is it?
  • Try hiding a noisy toy in your pocket. See if the child can find it while you make noise with it.

Ways to help your child recognize what a sound is

A woman speaking to a small child as she opens a door to let someone in.
Hear the knocking? Someone wants to come in.
  • Notice common sounds that she hears and help her name them.

  • When your child shows interest in a sound, explain what it is. Let them make the noise so they can hear it, learn where the sound comes from, and feel the vibration.
A girl holding a whistle speaking to a young child.
Here's how you blow the whistle...
A man holds a young child and points to a barking dog.
  • Take your child to different places and when you hear sounds show her what is making them.
2 children sitting down and clapping their hands.
  • Show her how to make different sounds herself.

Ways to help your child notice when 2 sounds are different

A girl covers her eyes while a man sits beside her and hits a pot and a drum.
  • Find 2 things that make different sounds. Remember, they must have a pitch and loudness your child can hear. Put them in front of your child. Show her the noise each thing makes. Then ask her to close her eyes while you make a noise with one of the things. When she opens her eyes, ask her to show you which thing she thinks made the noise.

  • Together, make up movements for 2 or 3 similar sounds. Then ask your child to make the movement whenever you make the sound.
    An older girl makes sounds as she and a younger girl play with spoons.
    HCWD Ch6 Page 66-3.png

    Here is an example with speech sounds:
  • A woman speaking as she sits with her husband and 2 small children.
    Who's talking now, Nami?

  • Have your child guess who in the family is speaking by the sound of their voice. This will also help her learn to tell whether a man or woman is talking.

Is my child learning to listen?

You will need to do all these activities many times, over and over. After about 6 months, check your child's hearing again (see Chapter 5). You may find your child can hear more sounds than before. This does not mean her hearing has changed. It simply means she has learned to use her hearing better. Praise your child when she notices sounds and words.

As you practice together, try to build on what she has learned by using all the sounds she can hear. As a child learns more words and understands them better, she will be able to express herself better and be able to communicate more.