When children get technology for the first time, or when they move from one piece of technology to another (changing hearing aids or moving from a hearing aid to a cochlear implant), families often assume that since the new sound is better, they will just adapt. “Now they are hearing so they will just learn by listening”.
Research has shown that incidental hearing is not enough. For children to learn well they need listening training. While much of therapy involves helping families learn how to provide good language exposure, clinicians are also attending to what a child is hearing and what they are missing.
By attending to a child’s auditory skills, we, as clinicians, can work on improving them. If a child is not attending to /s/, our first activity would be to determine if the child can hear it. The clinician will use some games to work out if the child is hearing the sound. If they are, we will next develop activities in which we can help the child attend to the /s/, identify it, and then incorporate it into both listening and speech production.
If the child is not hearing it, the child needs to return to the audiologist to see if technology settings can be modified to provide auditory access to /s/.
If no one is working with the child, there will be no one to pick up on problems the child is demonstrating. It is important that we do not wait until a problem is a serious one until we attend to it.
If we identify problems with technology, or in listening skills early, we can work to fix them. We do not want them to become ingrained that repairing them will be much more difficult.
Do not assume that technology alone is enough. It is not. Technology is a critical part of the mix but it is not the only thing that matters. Technology is part of the program towards success. Therapy and family intervention are both just as critical.