Hearing aids help children with a moderate hearing loss by amplifying the sounds that they hear.
But hearing aids cannot enable children with a profound hearing loss to hear and speak, so cochlear implants were developed and are now provided to deaf children throughout New Zealand. Unlike hearing aids, which make sound louder, a cochlear implant works by imitating the function of the inner ear so that children who are born profoundly deaf or lose their hearing through illness or accident can hear.
When the first children in New Zealand received a cochlear implant, the surgeons expected that they would develop spoken language like hearing children. However, it was soon found that these children required additional support to learn how to listen with their cochlear implant and understand spoken language.
The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Paediatric Programme employ a method called Auditory-Verbal Therapy to enable children with a cochlear implant to develop clear, natural-sounding spoken language. Auditory-Verbal Therapy works by accelerating the natural language development process to enable a deaf or hearing-impaired child to catch up on the listening and language development that he or she missed out on before receiving a cochlear implant.
Thanks to cochlear implants and Auditory-Verbal Therapy, deaf children can overcome their disability and develop clear, natural sounding spoken language. These children are then able to start mainstream school at age five with the same potential as their hearing peers. Deaf children who have been through these programmes are also able to do the normal things that you and I take for granted - such as talking on a cell phone, listening, participating in sport and chatting with family and friends.