Audiologists - Is deafness and perfect speech possible? (Evelyn Glennie on 60 mins.)

Jeffrey Sirianni audioman at HCTC.NET
Tue Nov 26 02:17:54 EST 1996


w874 at aol.com writes:

>No, its definitely not fraud. I have seen her on several news programs,
>and its truly amazing. The ability for a hard of hearing person to speak
>properly has to do with several factors, not which the least is the age
>that the person looses their hearing. In her case, age six is adequate to
>learn a great deal of speech. Therefore, even with her deafness, proper
>speech can be obtained. It also depends on the therapist, (if there was
>one), and how well she responds. 

This is so very true.  Thank you for your input on this topic.

I must add some things that I have noticed about such people we see in the
"spotlight".  These folks tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
Sure she has kept her good speech and aural abilities, but then again she
had six years of "normal" hearing for a foundation.  She was able to retain
this this.

I have a problem with the public display of such exceptional cases.  IMHO,
they give parents of hearing-impaired children a false hope.  I'm not saying
that parents should not hope that their children become exceptional in
speech and aural ability, it is that the vast majority fall way short of
achieving such abilities and that parents can become disenchanted and
discouraged when their own child does not reach such expectations.

I'm going to drag the cochlear implant industry into this one.  Whenever we
see a child with a cochlear implant on TV, what do we ususally see?  We see
an exceptional child who has the foundation and support needed to succeed,
and this child has actually succeeded in establishing excellent speech and
aural skills.  Compare the child on TV with those who we see or hear about
in our own practices.  I myself know of two children who were implanted in
the Dallas/Fort Worth area whose parents were "hoodwinked" into believing
that their child "could have their deafness fixed".  Both of these children
came fomr rural townships where no support was even available.  I see one
such child and he is minimally helped from his implant since he does not get
the speech support needed in order to acheive such a level of success.  The
nearest implant programming device is in one hour away in San Antonio while
the people who performed the implant are six hours away.  I am pretty
disgusted by the number of parents and children that are "bulldozed" into
these implants when the physician knows good and well that the child in
question cannot receive the necessary therapy needed based on the fact that
this child lives in a small community many hours away.

I see it as such:  The surgeon chalks up his surgery, gets paid, and his/her
work is done.  Send in the next family.....

I would love to hear from any one else who has seen such children in their
own practices, or from parents who feels like I do.

>Once someone learns how to speak, as long as they practice it, I don't
>think that they would lose it. BTW, how would ASL help speech ? Since it
>is a graphical communication medium, I don't see how it would enforce
>speech. On the other hand, a method such as cued speech, which is more of
>a phoneme based system would seem to encourage the continued use of proper
>speech. Just my opinion. 

Give a child a strong first language.  If the child is deaf of
hearing-impaired, the most appropriate should be ASL.  Once ASL is mastered,
the child can learn a second language much more easily.
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* Jeff Sirianni, M.A., CCC-A                      *
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