Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spotlight on Audiology: Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT)

 The following blog could NOT have been possible without the guidance, education, and assistance of Lynn A. Wood, M. A., CCC-A, LSLS Cert. AVT  of Auditory Verbal Center of Wheaton.  She is a wonderful resource and wealth of informtion.  Please find her complete biography at the bottom of this blog.   

Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) is a great way to faciliate spoken language and close the gap in learning, language, and cognitive skills for children with hearing loss and their same-aged peers.  Trained and certified audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and/or educators can provide AVT.

Why choose AVT rather than Sign Language or other alternative modes of communication?  The below information was provided by Lynn A. Wood of the Auditory Verbal Center of Wheaton.

There is a great shift towards listening and spoken language for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Approximately 95% of children with hearing loss are born into hearing and speaking families;  they are interested in having their child communicate through spoken language.

Because of  universal newborn screening programs, advanced hearing technology (sophisticated hearing aids and cochlear implants) and family-centered therapy, most children who are hearing impaired, can communicate through spoken language, use clear speech, are academically and socially at comparable level as their hearing peers.


A diagnosis of hearing loss/deafness does not need to mean a lifetime of silence and lost opportunities in spoken communication.  With today’s hearing technology, children with hearing loss and/or auditory neuropathy spectrum disorders have the opportunity to hear, listen and use spoken language. 

Warren Estabrooks, M.Ed., Dip.Ed.Deaf, LSLS Cert. AVT, writes,

"Most of these children are learning to listen to their own voices, listen to the voices of others and listen to all the other sounds of life. By learning to listen, they are learning to talk. By learning to listen and talk, they are learning to communicate in spoken conversations. By learning to listen and talk they are learning to read and write. By learning to listen and talk, they are achieving the dreams of an abundant academic and social life held for them by their parents. "

  Carol Flexer, PhD, CCC-A; LSLS Cert. AVT, professor of Audiology at The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio writes,
"...current research confirms several facts for families who desire a spoken language outcome for today’s infant or toddler who experiences hearing loss. Families need to know that very early use of hearing aids or insertion of a cochlear implant for severe to profound degrees of hearing loss to access, stimulate, and grow auditory centers of the brain during times of critical neuroplasticity – followed by thoughtful, intense, and ongoing auditory exposure and enrichment activities to take advantage of developmental synchrony and cumulative practice – offer a high probability of reaching their desired outcome of age-appropriate spoken language and literacy skills".
So, what is AVT?

The following information was adapted from a presentation titled Children with Hearing Loss: Context for Evaluating Auditory-Verbal Effectiveness, from the ASHA website. I encourage you to click on the link above and read the information for yourself.

Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) is:
A sytematic treatment plan for children with hearing loss that focuses on:
  • Early Detection of hearing loss with the use of the most optimal hearing technology at the earliest age possible
  • Hearing is NOT about sound but about BRAIN development of auditory cortex
  • Focus is on parent-based listening and talking activities all day long (e.g. “parent coaching strategies” to train skills to teach their own children how to listen and talk)
  • AVT is seen as a way of life...NOT just a therapy program
A very important part of AVT is the family’s lifelong VISION for their child. The AVT professional guides and coaches the family in obtaining their ultimate outcome which simply stated is for their child to listen and talk.

Research supporting AVT:
  • Research indicates potential for children with hearing loss to use AVT successfully (Durieux-Smith, et al., 1998; Dornan, et al., 2007; Goldberg & Flexer, 2001; Eriks-Brophy, 2004)
  • Other research suggests an acclerated rate of learning for hearing impaired children with the use of AVT (Duncan, 1999; Duncan and Rochecouste, 1999; Hogan, et al.,2008).
  • According to two studies by Rhoades, compared to a control group, children whose hearing loss was detected early, and appropriate technology and AVT were used, there was no significant difference in the rate of progress between the two groups after 50 months of treatment...suggesting that with the effective early intervention, the gap in learning, language and cognitive skills can be closed!!!! (Rhoades, 2001; Rhoades & Chisolm, 2000)
What is a Auditory Verbal Listening and Spoken Language Specialist?
"LSLS professionals help children who are deaf or hard of hearing develop spoken language and literacy primarily through listening" by focusing on "education, guidance, advocacy, family support and the rigorous application of techniques, strategies and procedures that promote optimal acquisition of spoken language through listening by newborns, infants, toddlers and children who are deaf or hard of hearing."In addition, "LSLS professionals guide families in helping their children develop spoken language through listening and coach them in advocating their children’s inclusion in the mainstream school."
Professionals certified in Listening and Spoken Language Services (LSLS) adhere to AVT principles and practices. To find out more about AVT LSLS certification go to: AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language

With such great research and information out there on early detection and hearing technology, we as SLPs would be remiss if we did not learn about this area of special and work cooperatively with AVT certified specialists in order to most effectively treat our clients.

Happy Listening and Talking!!!

Special thanks to the collaboration and education of Lynn A. Wood, M.A., CCC-A, LSLS Cert. AVT of which this blog could not have been possible to complete.  Ms. Wood is an Audiologist, a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist and a Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist who has worked with individuals with hearing loss and their families for over 30 years. Her private practice specializes in pediatric Auditory-Verbal therapy, post cochlear implant rehabilitation for children and adults and therapy for individuals with auditory processing disorder. Prior to opening the Auditory-Verbal Center of Wheaton in 1987, she worked in a variety of medical settings as a Clinical and Rehabilitative Audiologist, an Auditory-Verbal therapist and was the Director of Audiology at Akron General Medical Center in Ohio. She served for many years on the Certification Council of Auditory-Verbal International (AVI) and as a Child’s Rights Advocate for the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She was a faculty member and served as a mentor at 2009 and 2010 Children's Memorial's Medical Center’s Auditory-Verbal Institute Summer Programs and is a co-founder of Hearing Connections, a group for Auditory-Verbal families and friends in Chicagoland. In addition, Ms. Wood volunteers and serves in the GEMS (God's Exceptional Masterpieces) special needs ministry at Wheaton Bible Church in Illinois.

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