Six months have flown by and I have come to the end of Auditory Verbal UK’s Foundation course ‘Working Through Audition.’ All that’s left to do is submit my final video; this is a chance to put into practice everything I have learnt from the course which brings me here to reflect on just how much learning has taken place. 

The A.G.Bell accredited Foundation course aims to equip professionals with the core skills needed to develop auditory practice and, for those who wish to, go on to train to become Listening and Spoken Language Specialists. I have to say that in the last 6 months I have experienced the greatest clinical and professional growth since graduating as a qualified Speech and Language Therapist. I have attended various training courses since then but none that have changed my practice or increased my knowledge and confidence as much as this.

All content has been demonstrated through videos of highly skilled Auditory Verbal Therapists working with real families. I’d like to thank all families who have gone through the AVT process who have consented to sharing their videos for training because the learning that comes from being able to watch the Auditory Verbal strategies in practice is invaluable. 

Recording my own therapy and watching myself back has allowed me to reflect on things in my practice I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Watching the videos of other group members too in our webinars has allowed me to learn from others’ which is a rare opportunity as professionals so often work alone. Watching yourself back on video in front of a group is something most people will squirm at the thought of however; observations were guided sensitively by the AVUK mentor who expertly nurtured a supportive team of international professionals. 

The ‘Speech Acoustics’ module has helped me have more informed conversations with the Audiologists I work with. My improved skills in speech perception testing have allowed me to confidently feedback my observations to the Audiology team which has helped them make targeted programming adjustments to the cochlear implant to give the child improved access to the speech information they were otherwise missing. I have been mentored on how to coach parents to make the same observations so that they are equipped to monitor their child and share information with their Audiology and Rehabilitation team. The observations from parents are the most informative because of course the real listening happens, not inside the soundproofed testing rooms, but out in the real world.

Auditory Verbal Therapy follows the trajectory of natural child development and so therapists must understand what this looks like in order to see the whole child. This means in practice, planning a session that functionally targets the child’s audition, language, speech and communication goals within an activity that is developmentally appropriate for them and so cognitively engaging. The ‘Making AV Functional’ module challenged me to plan sessions using the same activity adapted for children at different developmental stages. This has helped me reduce my planning time and prepared me to ‘go with the flow’ in sessions. This is important as when working with children things don’t always go to plan. Following a child’s lead is far easier when you are practised in applying their goals to any activity.

Auditory Verbal Therapy is a family centred coaching programme and my learning from the ‘Parent Coaching’ module is what has changed my practice the most. So I thought I had involved parents in the therapy process before; I had demonstrated what to do and given parents tasks to complete at home with their child but from the foundation course I realise that coaching is so much more than that. Parent coaching is different from traditional speech and language therapy; it is a truly collaborative process from goal setting to implementation. It means understanding where the parent is at on their journey and meeting them there. It means celebrating the achievements and working through the difficult bits; there’s nothing more rewarding than having a parent eagerly share with me the things their child has accomplished in the time between appointments. Skilled coaching empowers parents to know what to expect for their child and provides them with the tools to confidently support their child’s listening and spoken language development and to advocate for them. Having trained to work with children, mastering the parent coaching strategies requires understanding how adults learn. I am looking forward to developing my coaching skills further on the advanced course. 

Auditory Verbal strategies are evidence informed and I had the pleasure of attending the virtual A.G.Bell Global Listening and Spoken Language Symposium this year along with some of my colleagues at AVUK. The Symposium saw professionals from more than 50 countries meet to share research and best practice. Training to become an Auditory Verbal Therapist is feeling part of an international community striving for the same goals: equal opportunities for all deaf children.

I’m more motivated than ever to continue developing my practice to meet the AG Bell Academy’s requirements to sit the LSLS CertAVT® examination. Next I will hopefully enrol on AVUK’s advanced course as I feel confident that with AVUK’s support this goal is within reach. 

Read the first two blogs from Sophie here and here.