Monday, December 7, 2009

Dyslexia: Hearing helps and Listening aids

Following on from our previous blog on 'Print Awareness' we would like to look at Listening and Hearing in the developing child.

Before we, or our children can speak and read properly we first have to be able to listen and understand what we are hearing.

Professional Speech Therapists will always insist that a full spectrum of hearing test are carried out on a child, before they take them on as a 'patient' or client.

This makes perfect sense, because in the early stages of speech we mimic and repeat what we hear and if we do not hear sounds clearly or there is a loss of some tones and frequencies then we will not be able to respond correctly. It may sound OK to the speaker but not to the listener.

Phonemic Awareness
It is essential that your child's hearing is in good working order, so that they can;

  • hear and begin to recognise sounds in words (Phonemics)
  • begin to match letters and letter sequences to sounds (Phonics)
Nursery Rhymes
There is a very good reason why nursery rhymes were written, repeated and have stood the test of time. It's because they have a very important purpose in helping a child develop a sense of language, in a simple, fun and therefore, acceptable way.

Children need to be able to detect and repeat simple rhymes in words and sentences, to allow them to develop good language skills. Nursery rhymes are essential in encouraging the child's development of phonemic awareness and as a consequence they also develop good phonic skills.

Sing along
So, make it easy for your children to sing along with nursery rhymes and simple rhyming songs. Sing with them and set aside a time in the day to share this activity with your child. It doesn't have to be a formal arrangement, it can simply be in the car on the way to the supermarket, in the shopping mall , when your both 'busy' in the garden or cleaning house.

Music and sounds
Make sure you have musical toys in your child's extensive and colourful collection of toys. Encourage your child to make the noise the toy makes e.g. a bell (Ding!), a car horn (Beep, beep!), a train (Woo, woo or Chuff, chuff), etc. Are they good at it?

This way you will be able to discover how talented your child is in the sound and music department but you may also be able to detect what frequencies they can and cannot hear.

Ear Infections
Be careful with ear infections in small children, they can lead to difficulties in hearing later on in development and therefore in speech and language development. Do not tolerate ear infections and be insistant with you doctor that your child needs speedy and appropriate treatment.

Don't over react but also don't allow yourself to be fobbed off or dismissed by a taciturn or off-hand remark that 'It'll go away itself!' or 'It's normal for kids. Just leave it!' No, get it treated. Otherwise your child's hearing and future development may be affected.

Hearing is essential in the development of speech and reading skills. Encourage your child to listen carefully and to sing and make appropriate sounds in response to your prompting.

Don't panic! If you have any concerns about your child's hearing or speaking skills, consult a qualified consultant for their opinion and they will be able to provide re-assurance, pertinent comment and specialist observations.

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