Tuesday, 18 July 2017

How do we learn to talk?

Image result for learn-to-talkIt's an interesting question: if you can't hear sounds, then how can you learn to speak?

Two out of every 1000 children in America are born hard of hearing or totally deaf.  For some, cochlear implants help bridge the communication gap between those children and the hearing world. Right after three year old Logan Manch was born, his parents feared they would struggle to communicate. "There's mild, moderate, severe and profound and he was profoundly deaf in both ears," explained Sarah Lodge, Logan's mother.

Doctors implanted cochlear hearing devices but Sarah and her husband worried Logan would lag way behind big sister Jenna when it came time to talk. "Here we have some, some new toys," says Dr. Derek Houston. Houston, a cognitive psychologist, is studying the impact of cochlear implants on language by watching kids and caregivers interact.

"We just say play with your child how you normally would with these objects." But, the toys are given made up names. "What does the wawa do?" And the kids and caregivers wear head mounted cameras. "We can see moment by moment where they are looking from their own perspective," explained Dr. Houston. Researchers learn which made up words the kids remember, then they analyze the parental interactions that worked.

"The ultimate goal is to have evidence-based education and therapy for children with hearing loss," said Dr. Houston.

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