A cochlear implant or another hearing implant gives your child the ability to hear. The next step is to help them understand what these sounds mean so that they can develop their listening, speaking and communication skills. The brain must be trained to understand the signals from the hearing implant and to use these signals to listen, speak and communicate.
The child’s parents and family are the most important people in the rehabilitation process, as they are the ones who have the closest relationship with the child, the ones they will communicate with the most and spend the most time with.
But in the rehabilitation process, you will also meet and work closely with a series of different professionals, such as audiologists, speech and language pathologists/therapists and school and kindergarten teachers.
Areas of rehabilitation
Rehabilitation activities are focused on these areas:
- Auditory development – developing listening skills.
- Speech development – learning how to speak.
- Language development – building vocabulary and making words and sentences.
- Communication management – learning how to communicate and participate in conversations in different situations.
- Practical and technical guidance – knowledge about the hearing implant and how to manage the implant.
How can I support my child?
In the rehabilitation process, you can and must support and help your child in many ways.
First of all, the sound processor / audio processor should always be worn whenever your child is awake. The sound processor / audio processor is what makes your child hear, so without the processor, rehabilitation is not possible.
It is important that you talk with your child as much as possible. Talk about everything that is happening and taking place. For example, when dressing, eating or doing other activities, expose your child to normal, daily words and the things that you see, experience, use or consume.
It is also a good idea to sing songs and read books. If there are pictures in the book, talk about them and sing the same songs so that the child can recognise and learn the words. Repeating things is always good training.
A good place for working with rehabilitation is often a place with little or no background noise, especially in the beginning. Later on, more difficult situations with background noise can be introduced in the rehabilitation process.
What to expect from rehabilitation?
In the rehabilitation process, it is important to have reasonable expectations and to remember that each child is an individual and will progress differently. It is also important to be patient. Things take time.
Keep in contact with the professionals and specialists. They know what to expect and can guide you and your child during the rehabilitation process.
And always remember that the outcome of cochlear implants and other hearing implants differs from person to person and does not restore hearing to the level of a normal hearing person.