(P.S. This post may contain affiliate links 'cause momma needs to bring home the bacon.)Your child's vocabulary is really important because it affects more than just reading and writing. Vocabulary is a big factor in communication and social skills development. Now if your child is DHH and has cochlear implants, how do your child's CIs affect their vocabulary development?
How Vocabulary Typically DevelopsFirst, we need to look into how children typically learn new words. Before your child heads to school, your child learns new words as they are exposed to language and interact with their environment. This happens when you play and read together, as your child overhears conversations and watches you, and interacts with friends and family. (Here's one of Baby Boy's and my favorite books!) So pretty much, language exposure and language experiences are a big deal for vocabulary. And when you put together all the research, language experience is the biggest factor in vocabulary development whether or not your child is DHH. (Children with typical hearing also need language experiences and exposure to learn new words.)
(Children with typical hearing have had exposure to language since before they were born so they've got quite a head start.)
Vocabulary Development with Cochlear ImplantsAfter your child has had their CIs activated, the intense language adventure begins!
(Now keep in mind that language experiences before implantation are really important so don't procrastinate your child's language development. Use all your Listening and Spoken Language strategies from the day your child's hearing loss is identified.)Cochlear Implants provide your child consistent and access to sound so that auditory & language skills can more fully develop. While your child is building language skills in natural interactions, you still need to really focus on developing your child's vocabulary. Research has shown that children with CIs have a slower rate of word learning and in a year make about 46-72% of the progress of kiddos without hearing loss. That's like learning 46 new words in the same amount of time that another child has learned 100. Let's keep this perspective on the positive. It's awesome that your child is now learning the 46 new words! Every new word is a success and worthy of being celebrated! In order to help your child make the same rate of progress and catch up with their peers, you have to focus on helping your child "accelerate their word learning."
Strategies to Develop VocabularyTo build your child's vocabulary, here are a handful of ideas:
- Create a language-rich environment with Listening & Spoken Language Strategies
- Teach vocabulary with these strategies
- Make it easier to listen with these environmental modifications
- Reducing background noise is a big help to improving your child's listening environment. Here are some strategies: run the dishwasher and clothes dryer at night and don't leave the TV always on.
- You can also hang curtains and put down rugs to help soak up extra noise and echoes in your home.
Wrapping It Up
When we put it all together, the research indicates that these three factors are the crucial keys to whether a child with cochlear implants can learn new fast enough to catch up with their peers with typical hearing.
These factors are:
- Auditory Experience
- Language Learning
- Symbolic Communication
Want to see how another parent helps their child develop language and listening skills in everyday routines? Click Here