Auditory verbal therapy What is Auditory Verbal therapy? What is Auditory Verbal therapy? Auditory Verbal therapy is a highly specialist early intervention family centred coaching programme which equips parents and care-givers with the tools to support the development of their deaf child’s speech and language development. In order for deaf children to listen, they require optimum technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. They also need the technology to stimulate the listening part of the brain, the auditory cortex. Owing to neuroplasticity, the auditory cortex requires stimulation early in a child’s life, ideally before three and a half. Auditory Verbal programmes work to ensure optimum technology is provided and that parents are given strategies to stimulate listening and therefore the listening brain. As a result, children with hearing loss are better able to develop listening and spoken language skills, with the aim of giving them the same opportunities and an equal start in life as hearing children. Through play-based therapy sessions, parents are given the tools – Auditory Verbal techniques and strategies – to develop their child’s listening and spoken language. Auditory Verbal therapy enables parents to help their child to make the best possible use of his or her hearing technology and equips parents to check and troubleshoot it in collaboration with their audiology team. This will maximise a child’s access to sound so that listening and spoken language skills can be developed to the fullest extent possible. Through play-based sessions using the Auditory Verbal approach, the child develops a listening attitude so that paying attention to the sound around them becomes automatic. Hearing and listening become an integral part of communication, play, education and eventually work. All learning from the sessions carries over into daily life. This means that at home, parents can make everyday activities such as setting the table or reading a story into a fun listening and learning opportunity. What are the communication options for deaf children? There are a number of different options for the parents of a deaf child or baby, including sign language, bilingualism, Cued Speech, Total Communication, oral speech & language therapy and Auditory Verbal therapy. Auditory Verbal therapy (AVT) is just one of these, and the approach that is most focused on the child working through audition. AVT differs from other speech and language therapy approaches in a number of ways: AVT concentrates on developing the listening part of the brain (the auditory cortex) rather than relying solely or partly on visual cues. There is a narrow window within which to develop the brain as a listening brain (rather than predominantly a visual brain, for example), and AVT seeks to make the most of this window of neural plasticity in the first three and a half years of life. AVT focuses on coaching the parents or carers of the child in the use of Auditory Verbal strategies and techniques in everyday activities and play so that every opportunity is used to develop their child’s listening brain and spoken language skills. AVT is an early intervention programme. By working intensively with the child in their first few years they should require much less additional support for the rest of their life. AVT aims to develop the child’s social skills and theory of mind; the ability to understand that their mind differs from another’s. This prepares them to make and keep friends at school. AVT is delivered by an Auditory Verbal therapist who is a qualified Teacher of the Deaf, Speech and Language Therapist or Audiologist who has undergone three years of post-graduate training to become a listening and spoken language specialist (LSLS Cert AVT), accredited through the AG Bell Academy, the certifying body based in the USA. In the UK, we lag behind other countries in providing access to Auditory Verbal programmes. We believe that Auditory Verbal practice, delivered by trained practitioners working in local authority sensory services and cochlear implant centres, should be one of the options routinely available to families who wish to optimise listening and spoken language for their deaf children. Click here for the evidence base for AVT.