Hearing Impairment

Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Social Language Impairments
(Pragmatic Language Impairment – PLI)
Learning Difficulty/Disability (LD)
Hearing Impairment
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Phonological disorders
Articulation disorder

A Hearing Impairment is the partial or total inability to physically hear, process and/or interpret sound. It can be of varying degrees and of different types. It can affect one or both ears. Hearing impairment can vary from mild to severe/profound, depending on the frequencies that are affected.

Hearing Impairment comes from different biological or medical causes. Most commonly, the ear (one or both) is the affected part of the body.

People with a hearing impairment are almost never ‘dumb’ (or mute). No matter what the degree of hearing loss all people with a hearing impairment have the ability to produce sound, especially if aided and taught. Certain sounds are more difficult to produce than others as they may not be as visible visually, e.g., /k/, /?/, /g/, /h/.

People with a hearing impairment are usually said to have a monotonous quality to their voice, due to their lack of intonation and/or pitch. They may also sometimes speak too loudly as they cannot monitor their own speaking volumes.

Communication for people with hearing impairments can be augmented and/or enhanced through:

  • Lip reading
  • Sign Language. This is usually the initial language that the child will be exposed to. It should be used as part of Total Communication: sign, verbal, written. 
  • Hearing aids
  • Cochlear Implants

Speech Therapy at A.T.L.A.S. for children with a hearing impairment focuses on both Sign Language training as well as facilitation of spoken language.  The choice as to whether to focus on sign language mastery or spoken language is a personal one, and should be made on an educated and sound understanding of the child’s hearing impairment. We endeavour to follow the child’s and parents’ wishes with regard to the mode of communication chosen and promote communication within this framework.

The Total Communication approach is generally advocated with children with a hearing loss. This targets the use of sign language, spoken language as well as the written medium as means of communication, i.e., all possible means for communication. Furthermore the child’s ability to use visual cues i.e., their speech reading/lip reading skills to understand language and follow instructions is also targeted.