About the Hearing Matters Podcast
The Hearing Matters Podcast discusses hearing technology (more commonly known as hearing aids), best practices, and a growing national epidemic - Hearing Loss. The show is hosted by father and son - Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS and Dr. Gregory Delfino, CC, located in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and East Stroudsburg, PA. C-A. Blaise Delfino and Dr. Gregory Delfino treat patients with hearing loss at Audiology Services.
The Effects of Hearing Loss on Literacy Development
In this episode Blaise Delfino discusses how hearing loss affects a child’s ability to learn to speak with Lindy Powell, a teacher of the deaf and a reading specialist.
The ability to hear is imperative to learning to speak and read. There are five areas in reading development. They are phonological/phonemic awareness, phonetics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Phonological/phonemic awareness enables a child to hear the syllables through listening. They apply those listening skills to developing a vocabulary. When they are fluent, they use the same skill set to speak with the correct inflection and at the correct rate of speed. Eventually the learn to comprehend what they are reading. Each step builds on the next.
Missing Certain Sounds
If a child has a high-frequency hearing loss, he/she may not hear important consonant sounds, like f, s, or t, for example. Because these sounds don’t get to the brain, the child may think the word Frank is really Ank. Also if the s on the end of a word is missing, the entire meaning of the word may change. An example is if a child asks for more than one thing. A child with hearing loss does not get the input they need for phonetic development.
What Can Parents Do?
There is a lot of research that shows children should have access to sound as early as possible. Some mothers even talk/read to their babies in utero. Sound helps develop speaking and listening skills and social skills. Strong vocabulary skills set children up for success. If a child is not developing speaking skills, intervention as early as possible is recommended.
Reading actual books at least 20 minutes a day with your child is also a way to enhance language skills. Reading online is not as effective. It’s recommended that children’s screen time should be limited, even if he/she is reading.
There are simple steps to providing early listening.
1. Make reading a priority. Make sure your child sees and hears you read things like the mail, magazines, and cookbooks. Also let them see you writing things, like notes for the store or daily reminders.
2. If you can’t find 20 minutes a day, which is often the case, be sure the time you spend reading/talking with your child is quality time. Set it aside and use it without interruption.
3. Don’t compare your child’s reading/listening skills to other kids, especially if he/she is not as advanced as kids the same age. Celebrate the progress the child makes.
4. Lean on the professionals. They are there to help you. Ask questions and follow their advice, and most importantly, try to limit your anxiety and your child’s.
For more information on improving listening/reading skills go to “listenlittles” on Instagram.
You're tuned into the Hearing Matters podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices, and a growing national epidemic hearing loss. On this episode, we have Lindy Powell, who is a teacher of the deaf and a reading specialist and I have to say, I am personally so excited to welcome Lindy to the Hearing Matters Podcast due to my own background in speech language pathology. Lindy here at Hearing Matters Podcast we want to raise awareness of the importance of hearing healthcare. You are in the communication sciences field and you are working with the deaf community and children on a daily basis. What exactly does listening have to do with literacy development?Lindy Powell:
Goodness, listening has everything to do with literacy development. If you take a look, there are five main areas of reading development. And we have phonological awareness or phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. We go back to that phonological awareness piece. You have those skills that you develop like syllables, and segmenting and blending parts of words, rhyming words, building all of those skills and leading into phonemic awareness skills where you're bringing out individual sounds, and playing with the words throughout the the activities that you do. So in those activities, you can do it all with your eyes closed. phonological awareness is developed purely through listening alone, you never bring in a written letter as you're developing those skills in children. phonics is when you go and apply those listening skills that you've built through your phonological and phonemic awareness practice to actually reading the letter and reading the words. For vocabulary. you're developing words, if you're using spoken English through listening, and for fluency, we're building on the skills that we use to speak and to ask questions with the right inflection speech to speak at the right rate. We're applying all of those fluency skills that we've built through listening in our speech, to then our reading skills. And finally, there's comprehension, you need to be able to read and understand what you're reading. But many times if you have a language delay, that is secondary to listening, you're reading and you don't understand, because even if someone would say that aloud to you, you wouldn't understand and you didn't have the listening foundation to build those skills. All of those areas are directly related to listening.Blaise Delfino:
And Lindy, what's so interesting is that when we talk about listening without a hearing system, and even a hearing system that is, quote, unquote, damaged a child presents with hearing loss, well, that will affect their literacy development, because if they present with a high frequency hearing loss, well, there are consonant sounds that are associated with carrying meaning like the F as in Frank, or t as in Tom, or S as in Sam. So what exactly happens if a child's listening development is affected by something like hearing loss?Lindy Powell:
So in short, what happens is those sounds that they do not have access to means that they don't have access to their it's not getting to their brain, those sounds are not making it all the way to their brain to develop the skills they need to to understand the meaning behind them. So you mentioned those sounds at the beginning of words. And a lot of times a child can hear a word like frame, and maybe you just leave out the sound and say, a conservative frame, or substitute the sound with something, and the meaning is still there. And you know, that's Frank, and that's just how I say his name. That's the word I've learned for his name. But that s sound at the end of words, if you think of plural s and possessive s, that's where you're going to fall into really muddy water trying to figure out where the meaning is there. There's lots of meaning behind a plural s for a young child. If a young child is trying to ask for more than one toy or more than one thing at snack time. And he doesn't have the way to say that, then there's a lot of meaning that's being missed if he doesn't have access to that s sound in spoken language. The same thing with possessive s if we want to say what is mine and what belongs to someone else, and we're adding that so on the end, there's a lot of meaning behind that too. So a child who's missing those sounds through listening is missing the opportunity to value The understanding and the meaning of those words. And then that would in turn obviously lead to an issue when you're exposed to those words in writing and trying to read and understand what you're reading.Blaise Delfino:
So Lindy, I'm curious to know, are listening, and hearing and understanding all three completely different things?Lindy Powell:
Yes, actually. And so understanding I would say is involved in listening, right listening, it's kind of under the listening umbrella hearing, as a teacher of the deaf we say hearing is just access to sound. What you can hear is what's represented on your audiogram right? What you can hear is just what you're able to, to hear, but not what you're able to discriminate, and not what you're able to necessarily say or produce and not what you're able to understand. But you can hear that. So hearing does not equal understanding and hearing does not equal listening skills.Blaise Delfino:
So if a child can hear or essentially detects speech sounds, because you say that hearing is, is the access to those sounds, does this mean that they'll automatically develop phonemic awareness?Lindy Powell:
No. And actually, I can say that with confidence, because as a reading specialists in the field, it's well known that about 20% of all children are going to require direct instruction for phonemic and phonological awareness, skill development. So if you think of a child who hasn't had access to sound, maybe delayed access to sound or intermittent access to sound, and some point of their life where they had a hearing loss, and they weren't receiving all of the input, they needed to develop all of those listening skills, they are probably going to fall into that 20%, that's going to need some extra support. And that doesn't mean that they can't do it. It just means that this is the child who listens to nursery rhymes and listens to stories that you're reading, and doesn't automatically start to play with rhyming words and doesn't automatically start to add silly endings to words or play around with how they sound. Some children just aren't interested or tuning into those details in spoken language, they need that extra support of a teacher to help them through that.Blaise Delfino:
So Lindy, we know that language is a code in which ideas are shared. And speech is the neuro muscular process. What does some research say, you know about early access to sound and literacy outcomes in children.Lindy Powell:
That's so we are in a great spot in 2021. Because we have lots of research to tell us that early access to sound is going to set up a child for success. Early Access to sound is going to set a child up for success for vocabulary development, spoken language skills, social skills, all of that. And we also know that entering kindergarten research is telling us that vocabulary is a key indicator of whether or not a child is going to be successful as a reader when they enter kindergarten. So therefore, if we have children who are receiving timely intervention, and who are receiving early access to sound and building those vocabulary skills, we can then assume or make the connection that those vocabulary skills are again going to set them up for success as a kindergarten or first grader when they transition to a typical school because they have that strong listening and language foundation.Blaise Delfino:
So Lindy, I have a four year old nephew, his name is Charles and what is so awesome about my nephew, there's a lot of things he's just so cool. He will literally take a book and say Uncle Blaise, let's read this. And it's not the iPad, Lindy, it's not the iPad, he is holding a physical book. And I remember during I'm obviously during your graduate studies, and during my graduate studies, it was the emphasis on reading children and reading your client's physical books because we know that too much screen time is a bad thing, the literacy development with using a real physical book because it helps with their literacy skills, but too much screen time, you know, can affect their overall attention. And the blue light in and of itself is just not healthy for their vision. When we talk about these skills, and and the carryover that needs to be implemented at home, what are some simple steps that parents can take to really support early listening and literacy skills at home. This is really important.Lindy Powell:
It is really important. And I think the first step is just to build in routines, to have an awareness of it and to say I really want to make this a priority for me and my child to spend time together reading each day. And if you can build in those routines, it's easy to build up and more from those routines. And I always say you can never start reading too early to babies. Lots of moms read to babies while they're expecting that definitely pack a bag when you go to the hospital with your book. And that can be a great way for you to set that habit from getting one to read to that little child. Now, things get crazy and hectic, though. And research will tell us that 20 minutes is that sweet spot for how long we should be reading to kids each day. And that can be really overwhelming or daunting when you think about a mom, or a dad who's at home and trying to think about how they're going to read to four kids for 20 minutes each each day or how they're going to settle their toddler and make dinner at the same time and find time to actually sit down and read. So there's there's research also that shows that the quality of time you spend with your child when you're reading is more beneficial. So instead of parents sitting down and setting a timer and making goals and setting routines, that way, they can just be focused on spending the time and laughing and having fun as you read a book, those things are going to be beneficial in building habits and you as the parent and then also bring up that that love of reading that your nephew Charles has when they come to you and bring a book because they want to read to that exposure is going to just help.Blaise Delfino:
Lindy, this is something that I personally am so passionate about when we're talking about literacy skills, how important it is, number one to build these skills for these children because these children are the the future, right? So what if some of these children see that their parents aren't picking up books or something of that nature, what I'm really getting at is how important is it for these kids to see their parents physically pick up a book and read themselves, even if it's a magazine or something of that nature?Lindy Powell:
Yes, I love that you mentioned a magazine. And it's really just important for, for children to see their parents using written language for for multiple purposes. So if you're scrolling on your phone, your child doesn't necessarily know that you're reading or that you're looking at any written content. So that could be that can be limiting in that sense. But that's for entertainment, usually when we're scrolling on our phone, but it's important for the child to see that we're writing down notes, maybe to take to the grocery store, we're writing and we're using written language. And it has meaning they're reading magazines, physical magazines, reading cookbooks, different things that come in the mail, opening your mail with your child and showing their name that a lot of times parents too, who do have the time to read or not reading in front of their children because they want to spend quality time with their child and not model reading. So it's always okay, first, I want to pick up a book and read it in front of the child. But a lot of parents are doing that after their children go to bed. So any exposure to little elements like that throughout the day where you can think oh, this is a time during the day that I'm reading. And I can just say out loud, Oh, interesting. We got this letter today. And it says this even if you're throwing it in the trash. So those that exposure is just really great.Blaise Delfino:
Lindy, what's so amazing about this interview throughout this entire podcast episode, I can just hear the passion in your voice for number one, helping all of the students and all the clients that you work with, because you of course, have this deep rooted passion of children need to build strong literacy skills, and some children will build their skills sooner than others. So what would you say to some parents that are listening right now who say, you know, my child's literacy skills as compared to some of their peers might not appear strong? What would you say to these parents who are experiencing this right now?Lindy Powell:
That's such a great question. And the first thing is that it's so hard not to compare. So it but first take a step back and don't compare your child to another child, your child, especially a child who's deaf and hard of hearing is on their own journey to listening and spoken language is on their own journey to building their literate literacy skills. Now, with that said, you also want to look and say, what can we celebrate about what my child has already done? What kind of progress have we already made? Chances are there is some progress that you can celebrate and when you stop comparing, you're able to look at your child and celebrate that and know what next steps to take. Lean on the professionals with whom you are working. Make sure you understand if you have any questions about your child's listening and literacy development. Work with your teacher of the deaf work with your auditory verbal therapists, make sure that you understand what those next steps are because building your understanding of where your child is right now and what that next step is, can limit some of the anxiety between the big jump from where your child is now and that comparison to that child you saw down the street.Blaise Delfino:
Lindy, you are just so incredibly literate on this subject of building literacy skills. You've helped so many children throughout the years. And prior to recording this podcast, you shared some pretty incredible news that is happening in your own life.Lindy Powell:
Yes, yes, I recently accepted a new role. So I mentioned I stepped back and I was a teacher for this school year I did some reflecting and found my way out of Houston, Texas, and we are relocating to Indianapolis. I'll be stepping in as the executive director of St. Joseph Institute in Indianapolis in June.Blaise Delfino:
Well, Lindy Congratulations, you are going to continue to help so many children, so many families and so many parents and the importance of building these literacy skills, Lindy if our listeners want to learn more about how you can help them how you can help their children, where can we find and connect with some of the resources thatLindy Powell:
Yes, I have a small but still growing you provide? Instagram account. It is listen littles with an S at the end on Instagram and you'll find lots of literacy resources, listening development, just fun posts for me and my son at home, and different ways that you can work on on building those early literacy skills.Blaise Delfino:
It's a fun page. We support it. Lindy, I want to thank you so much for joining us on the Hearing Matters Podcast. You're tuned into the hearing matters podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs. Today, we had Lindy Powell, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, join us on this episode. Until next time, hear lifes story.