Auditory Learning and Spoken Language for Children with Hearing Loss
Today, with universal newborn hearing screening, early diagnosis, fitting of advanced hearing technology (such as digital hearing aids and cochlear implants), and enrollment in early intervention and preschool programs, children with hearing loss have more opportunities than ever before to use audition to develop spoken language. Rapid progress in these areas has created a critical shortage of appropriately trained professionals who can meet the unique communicative and learning needs of children with permanent hearing loss and their families.
The Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education at Utah State University, recognizing the opportunity to provide indepth training to graduate students in Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology, and Deaf Education, has developed an innovative training program for these graduate programs. In addition to the standard coursework and requirements for a master’s degree (MS) in Speech-Language Pathology or a Doctor of Audioglogy (AuD) degree, students can take additional courses and complete specialized practica and field-study experiences to develop specific knowledge and skills in the practice of pediatric audiology, auditory-verbal therapy, and auditoryoral education for children with hearing loss, aged birth through six, and their families.
Students who have completed a composite bachelor’s degree in Special Education/Early Childhood Education can receive a master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in auditory learning and spoken language. This specialized training program for educators is a joint effort between the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education and the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation.
Sound Beginnings of Cache Valley, a newly established early intervention program and preschool, serves as the primary training site for graduate students and provides a range of practicum placements and experiences, such as audiology diagnostics, auditory-verbal therapy sessions, speech-language therapy, parent-infant intervention, toddler group intervention, and auditory-oral education within the preschool. Further information, can be found at: http://www.soundbeginnings.usu.edu/
The program is built on a strong foundation of interdisciplinary service provision to young children with hearing loss and their families. Therefore, regardless of their major, students enrolled take courses together and are often assigned as teams in practica settings and field study projects. Best practices and guiding principles in family-centered intervention, early childhood education, deaf education, speechlanguage pathology, and audiology are incorporated throughout the program.
Practicum and Externship Experiences
All students completing the program will be placed at local and in-state facilities, such as Sound Beginnings of Cache Valley and Primary Children’s Cochlear Implant Center, as well as at innovative, nationally recognized programs or schools serving children with hearing loss who
are acquiring spoken language, such as:
- Auditory Oral School of New York (Brooklyn, New York)
- CASTLE Program (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
- CREC Soundbridge (Wethersfield, Connecticut)
- Jean Weingarten Oral Peninsula School for the Deaf (San Francisco, California)
- Listen and Talk (Seattle, Washington)
- Tucker-Maxon Oral School for the Deaf (Portland, Oregon)
- Saticoy Elementary School (Los Angeles, California)
- Hearts for Hearing Foundation (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
- The Moog Center for Deaf Children (St. Louis, Missouri)
Creating Additional Professional Opportunities
Due to the ongoing changes within the field of deafness and the fact that approximately 95 percent of parents having children with hearing loss are hearing themselves, parents are increasingly seeking spoken language communication options and intervention programs that will allow their young children with hearing loss to learn to listen and talk. By completing an emphasis in Auditory Learning and Spoken Language, students receiving graduate degrees in Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology will be qualified to work in a variety of settings serving young children with hearing loss and their families, including but not limited to:
- Cochlear Implant Programs and Teams
- Community Speech-Language-Hearing Centers
- Family-Centered Intervention Programs
- Educational Programs for Children with Hearing Loss
- Home Health Organizations
- Private Practice
- Public and/or Private Schools
- State and Federal Agencies
Funding for Students
Through generous funding from private foundations, federal and state grants, and University resources, graduate students accepted into the program are eligible for scholarships that include tuition and a monthly stipend. Students will be asked to sign a “payback agreement” stipulating that after graduation they will work in settings serving children with hearing loss and their families. They will be required to work in the field one year for each year of funding (e.g., two years of funding requires two years of work), and the graduate must begin this commitment within five years of graduation.
Students are expected to complete approximately 10 hours of practicumrelated experience per week. This estimate will fluctuate slightly based on the number of children enrolled in Sound Beginnings. During Fall Semester 2008, students averaged 6.5 hours of direct contact time, and another two hours each week were used for planning the sessions.
For more information about the Graduate Studies Program in Auditory Learning and Spoken Language, contact Dr. Todd Houston, Director, at email@example.com or at (435) 797-0434.