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What do parents value most about their experience with auditory-verbal therapy and education?

Posted by Melanie Ribich on April 28, 2014 12:04 AM

Melanie Ribich

I recently had the opportunity to read through 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Auditory-Verbal Practice edited by Warren Estabrooks. It was fascinating to me as a parent to read what professionals from around the world have to say on a wide variety of topics relating to Auditory-Verbal Practice.

One article that I found particularly interesting was the response to the question What do parents value most about their experience with auditory-verbal therapy and education?

In their response, Terri Cohen-Johnson and Marguerite Vasconcellos wrote that in general, parents value the umbrella of support that auditory-verbal practice provides.  Parents/caregivers appreciate:

• the emotional support they receive from their child’s therapist,
• the opportunities to observe, learn and practice the techniques and strategies that can help their child learn to listen and talk,
• the boost in their confidence they experience as a result of being included as a key members of their child’s auditory-verbal team.

As a parent who also went through the auditory-verbal practice experience I wholeheartedly agree with this response and thought that I would share my personal experiences as they relate to this response found in 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Auditory-Verbal Practice.

We started working with our auditory-verbal therapist when our son Noah was four months old. At that time our family knew very little about hearing loss.  We found ourselves trying to balance the needs of all of our children — our two year old daughter, Noah and his twin brother — while dealing with the diagnosis of Noah’s hearing loss. I remember it as being an overwhelming and extremely exhausting period of time. My husband had gone back to work and I was home with the children.

I recall worrying: How I would manage Noah’s equipment? What about the constant ear mold fittings? How would I find childcare that would allow for all the audiology appointments? How was I to keep the hearing aids in his ears when he seemed to take them out fifty times a day? Why we were continuing to do therapy when it seemed like he wasn’t hearing a single sound we introduced to him?

Our auditory-verbal therapist began coming to our home every Friday morning and I had no choice but to show her who I truly was. There was often no time to clean up the dishes in the sink, put away the toys or even look presentable. It was a time when I felt had little control over what was happening in my life. After a number of weeks, I found myself beginning to look forward to those Friday mornings. I discovered that the therapist was helping me address the numerous worries and concerns I had.

Despite their best intentions, my friends did not truly understand what I was going through but our auditory-verbal therapist seemed to be empathetic. She was emotionally supportive in a way that no one else, at that time, was and that support encouraged me to go on.

The more I felt supported, the more eager I became to learn.

During those Friday morning sessions I learned there were specific things I could do for my child to help him learn to listen and talk. The therapist demonstrated these skills through play activities and then passed the activities over to me so that I could practice those skills with her support and guidance. Every time our therapist modelled a song in a session and then said, “your turn Mom”, was a way to push me to the forefront. It was uncomfortable at first, but the more I did it, the easier it became. That seemingly small part of a sixty minute session is the reason I am now comfortable in IEP meetings, know how to find the best people to work with my child and am unafraid to ask for whatever will help my child learn in his mainstream classroom.

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The more I learned from my auditory-verbal therapist, the more confident I became in my ability to manage everything from ensuring Noah’s hearing equipment was appropriately selected, fitted and maintained to navigating our insurance plan so Noah could benefit from the services/equipment he needed. I learned to create an ideal and positive listening environment in my home.  I gained confidence in managing Noah’s hearing needs.

Auditory-verbal therapy taught me that I was the case manager for my child. We have an entire team of people who work together for Noah. It used to be just Noah’s therapist and audiologist but now includes a teacher of the deaf, an educational audiologist, regular education teachers, and even our school principal. I believe that this group works best when the parent is the one who links them together. I know my child best and therefore I am truly the one who is going to do the best advocating.

Auditory-verbal therapy became a way of life, not an hour on a Friday morning. I was guided, coached and eventually expected to play the role of “therapist” for my child. And I did. Noah progressed and less than three years later was discharged from therapy.

Because I felt supported in the beginning,
I was perfectly set up to blossom into a parent who was empowered.
Being empowered, in my opinion, is the greatest gift that auditory-verbal therapy gave me as a parent.

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101 Frequently Asked Questions About Auditory-Verbal Practice edited by Warren Estabrooks

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