Acquiring Speech

It is not always realized that speech development begins in the first days and weeks of life when the ‘babbling’ and ‘gurgling’ sounds all babies make change to recognizable words ‘Amma’ etc.

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The child hears the sounds and imitates and connects certain sounds with certain objects.  This is called ‘speech maturation’ and occurs within the first two years of life.If a child is deaf and so cannot hear, or only partially hear, the sounds made by him and too him, he does not properly acquire speech or only a ‘speech’ that is unrecognizable to those around him.

Therefore an early intervention which starts only at three years of age has little impact on the child’s speech development, especially if the child is severely or profoundly deaf.

During these crucial years,

  1. Regular audiology with trained person and the fitting of custom built hearing aids, changed regularly according to the child’s needs, should be undertaken.
  2. Intervention and training of parents, siblings and other ‘carers’ should be followed.

With skill and dedication, this can result in a hearing impaired child developing coherent speech and so being able to take his/her place in the hearing world.

However, the above programme is very costly. Such hearing aids, which need to be frequently changed as the child grows, are very expensive and trained person with the necessary skills are not readily available, especially in rural areas.