Today, at the Houses of Parliament, Auditory Verbal UK launched new research which demonstrates the effectiveness of Auditory Verbal therapy.

Auditory Verbal UK’s research team analysed the outcomes of deaf children who had been through our early intervention programme over the past ten years. It found that of the deaf children who attended fortnightly sessions for two or more years and had no additional needs, 97% achieved spoken language skills on a par with hearing children their age.

The paper launched at the event, however, had a particular focus on deaf children with additional needs. These additional needs often relate to the cause of hearing loss such as CHARGE syndrome, which affects hearing, vision, balance, the airways and growth; Usher syndrome, affecting hearing and vision; and meningitis.

Of the children who had needs in addition to their hearing loss, half achieved age-appropriate language. On average, the children with, and those without additional needs, both doubled their rate of language development.

It also shows that the earlier that effective intervention begins, the better the prognosis for language development. 

Speaking at the charity’s Power of Speech event at the House of Commons today, where several young people who completed the programme gave speeches to MPs, Auditory Verbal UK’s Chief Executive Anita Grover said we need to do more as a society to raise expectations of deaf children.

She said:

In the UK, we have a world-class Newborn Hearing Screening Programme and access to state of the art modern hearing technology. But the gap between deaf children’s achievements and those of their hearing peers, is widening.

This should not be the case and far too many deaf children are missing out on vital support in the critical early years of their lives.

Our latest study shows the significant benefits of an Auditory Verbal programme and crucially highlights the outcomes for children who are deaf and have additional, and often complex needs.  We must ensure that families have access to the support that is right for them, whether they want their child to use spoken language, sign language or a combination of the two. Our expectations for deaf children must be much higher and investment must be made in services to ensure that no child is left behind.

Our latest study of children with cochlear implants and hearing aids, following a family-centred Auditory Verbal programme shows, that listening and spoken language is a realistic goal for many deaf children, including those with additional needs. 

We must raise the bar for deaf children and invest in the support that is right for them and their family in the vital development years.

Power of Speech is an event held to challenge the perceptions of what deaf children can achieve. Today’s event, hosted by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness, was attended by 100 MPs and professionals in the sector.

Auditory Verbal therapy is a mainstream approach in North America and Australasia, but in the UK only 5% of deaf children currently have access to it.  Auditory Verbal UK provide a programme for families across the UK from its two centres in London and Oxfordshire and is working to increase the number of specialist therapists in the NHS and local services so that families have an opportunity to access a programme close to where they live.

The peer-reviewed paper will be published later this year. A summary document from our Power of Speech event is available here:

READ SUMMARY DOCUMENT

If you have any questions, please email Abigail Hitchins (Research Assistant) on [email protected]