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Communication Options
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Family and BabyThere are important times for learning to listen, and there are important times for learning to communicate. We think that most hearing children have finished learning basic language communication skills before they begin kindergarten. Adults and children communicate through language, and babies with normal hearing begin paying attention to language and learning language as soon as they are born. Deaf babies with Deaf parents also begin to pay attention and learn as soon as they are born. Hearing parents and babies and Deaf parents and babies share a common language. They share that language because they can understand each other.

When parents have normal hearing and their babies have hearing loss the communication pattern can be interrupted. The family needs to find some form of communication that everyone can understand. The decision about how to communicate in your family will be a very important one.

The types of communication most commonly used are described under Communication Modality on the page called Getting Started :Words and Terms on this website. They include:

  • Auditory/Verbal communication
  • Auditory Oral communication
  • Cued Speech
  • Simultaneous communication
  • American Sign Language

two childrenSometimes a family will find a single form of communication works best, and sometimes families may use more than one form. For example, one family may choose auditory/verbal or oral methods for a child who is going to receive a cochlear implant at one year of age. Another in this situation may sign to the baby until the implant, and then transition to oral approaches. A baby with both Deaf and hearing family members may learn sign language while using residual hearing to develop spoken language. Another child may speak clearly but do best with an interpreter in school.

A decision about communication options will be the most helpful if parents gather information first. It is valuable to spend time talking with professionals and other parents, reading and scanning the internet. Information gathering is the first step in making your early decisions. It is especially important to know that decisions can be changed, based on your child's communication needs. Over time, you will become a good observer of your child's communication needs. These observations will be a useful guide.