Speech therapy is, I think , the most important part of getting a deaf child to lead a normal life.In the past two and half years of my dealing with this disability, I have come across many hearing impaired children who have been undergoing various training to help them to communicate.But why is it that very few children are able to lead normal lives?In my city, I have yet to come across any child who is going to various institutions for speech therapy actually talking.Their understanding of language and then speech has not been worked upon.Some children are later switching to cochlear implant as advised by the audiologist as speech has not developed.The reason being, appropriate speech therapy is not given.There is no good therapist who is capable of developing it.The parents out of desperation think that maybe implant would help and so get it done.Only later do they realise the complications of it and still no speech as therapy is still not good.
The question arises-why is speech therepy important?
The reason being that a lot of time has gone by from birth without the child hearing.The child has missed out a lot of sounds around him in those many months and years.He learns to adjust in that soundless world.He has to be taught to pay attention to sound.For him it is a botheration and unnecessary distraction after the aids are put.he has missed all the sounds that make meaning to action around.When the child is born , for the 1st 4 months or so he just lies down and looks and listens to the booming , bustling and buzzing world.He lies and listens to..Oh that bang, Oh that is the bell ringing and mom is opening the door.That is dad asking for tea, the sound of phone, something fell down.He is just lying down and listens and making sense of it with the speech he hears along with the action around.A normal child learns language with that.A deaf child has missed all the sounds and the related speech happening around him.He learns to be visual.So to make up for all that and to give meaning to each sound and action he has missed , speech therepy is necessary.
Another simpler way to explain would be this.We have perfect hearing and we also speak well.So why do we not pick up a lingo if we go to a foreign land?I need to take classes and that too many in french,arabic,tamil, bengali etc.Just by hearing alone I can never get the meaning .I need to be explained each word.Language is a sequence of sound symbols .And when they are in a particular sequence I understand it.Each sentence has to have a meaning.So it is the same in speech therepy.Every action, word,sound has to be given meaning that the child has missed out.Also as a normal person inspite of hearing and speaking needs practice to speak the new language, needs to constantly remember new words that have been taught to him and needs to remember the order in which he needs to make sentence, so it is for the child who is hearing impaired.And since the child has not used his muscles of the mouth and throat for so long his muscles there are lax and he needs to constantly be told to keep mouth closed and keep his tongue in the resting position between the teeth so that he can speak.Any language to speak needs certain parameters to speak.There has to be some tension in the muscle to give correct speech and all this and more is the responsibility of speech therapist to explain.We normal people take all this for granted.
The deaf child too needs to constanty practice the newly aquired skill of speech.You need a LOT of patience for this.Also early detection helps the child to develop speech and languge understanding better and faster.He has not developed any bad habits, not gone under wrong speech therepy, not too visual and is easier to integrate into the normal life. I also feel that any aids will do as long as GOOD SPEECH THEREPY is given.
I have been lucky to find my speech therapist.She is trained in AUDITORY VERBAL THERAPY [AVT] as it is called.I think she is the only one in my city to do so and get all her children to speak.I thank God every day for her presence in my life