Deafness isn’t the tragedy that it was, at one time. With sustained early intervention and hearing-devices from birth to age three, a baby or child who is deaf achieves a good quality of life with their own personal milestones. However, if deafness is diagnosed at a late stage (after the child is 2.5 years of age), developmental delays need to be addressed.
Childrens’ Prospects Peak From Birth To Three
Early intervention ensures a deaf child’s emotional, mental health, general well-being, educational attainment, adult quality of life and standard of living. The sooner a baby’s diagnosis is confirmed and hearing devices fitted to access sound, the better their future will be.
Accordingly, language acquisition is a cornerstone of early intervention – spoken, signed, or a mix of the two (total communication). While exceptions exist, deaf parents typically prefer their deaf children to learn sign language, while hearing parents prefer the auditory-verbal route (AVT, or amplification of the child’s residual hearing and speech therapy).
Visual Context Builds A Child’s Understanding
Yet another method, cued speech, teaches the child to lip-read with manual cues to indicate the sound being made. By this means, the child learns to identify what the sound “looks like” on the lips as a lead-in to lip-reading full, spoken language.
Deaf children may “hear” with their eyes, so their language acquisition needs to be visual too. For deaf children who sign, their language is purely visual, while deaf children who lipread use visual cues to the lip-patterns of speech and auditory input from hearing-aids.