Dr Susanne Dopke
Speech and Language Pathology
Hearing loss may be due to a range of conditions including fluid in the outer ear, damage to the hearing nerve or lack of processing of speech sounds. An ENT (ear-nose-throat) physician can determine the cause of a hearing loss and advice on the availability and appropriateness of medical treatment. Sometimes a neurologist may be consulted as well.
An audiologist assesses the degree of hearing loss. Not all people hear at the same level of accuracy, but from a certain point on, a hearing loss may make it very difficult for a child to learn language. When a person acquires a hearing loss after he or she can already talk, that hearing loss may make it difficult or impossible to process language.
It is vitally important for people to be able to communicate with others. A young child's cognitive development depends on learning language. Humans depend on communication for all aspects of their well being. Speech pathologist can help through a variety of means to ensure that the young child continues to develop and that people of all ages do not suffer from social isolation.
The following are some ways in which speech pathologists may treat a person with hearing impairment:
pathology treatment may compensate for a client's lack or hearing through direct
tactile input to the muscles of speech in order to facilitate the formation
of correct speech sounds, eg.
through PROMPT techniques
Speech pathology treatment may enhance a client's processing of sounds as well as the client's intelligibility through visual cues, eg. cued articulation;
Speech pathologist can implement reading programs to address the reading problems frequently related to childhood hearing impairment and difficulties with articulation;
Speech pathologists may advise parents and carers on sign language, its effect on cognitive development and the development of spoken language in younger and older children. They may also discuss ways and levels at which sign language can be used by both the carer and the client and help them to access such services. Many speech pathologists have the resources to integrate signing and oral treatment.
The speech pathologist may design a program of alternative communication that relies on picture cues. This might be particularly suitable for older people who lost their ability to process language with little chance of regaining it.
For more information on bilingualism and language disorder,
Which treatment path the speech pathologist will implement will depend on the particular needs and strengths of the client.