Self guided rehabilitation
Learning to hear with a cochlear implant can require some patience and practice. To make the most of training your brain to hear some individuals have found the following exercises helpful and beneficial.
Side-by-side tracking is a good practice tool for those who have been newly implanted—either with a first or second cochlear implant. This exercise is done with a partner who sits beside the recipient and reads while the recipient follows along looking at the text (you will need two copies of the text). The partner then stops and the recipient picks up at the appropriate place. The task can be made more difficult by picking up the speed or even substituting selected words. Some general guidelines:
- Involve family and friends who are supportive.
- Start with easy materials and work up to harder materials.
- Have the person assisting sit beside you on the side of the implanted ear.
- Use regular volume (do not use a raised voice).
- Minimize background noise.
- Use speech that is full of expression and natural rhythm.
Reading and listening to a fully unabridged audio book helps the brain to make the connection between the words heard and words seen. By listening and looking at the words the connection can be made. To make this exercise more challenging, remove the visual and focus on the auditory input. This helps build one’s ability to understand what is being stated.
Books on tape
Public library systems typically have a number of books that are available on CD or tapes. These can be an excellent free resource of audio books. Tip: If you explain you are learning to hear through a cochlear implant, they may give you an extended loan.
Overdrive is one website that has hundreds of books on tape that one can enjoy.
LibriVox is another source of audiobooks, read by volunteers. All of the books are in the public domain and the site links to the text version of the book to read along with the audio.
Kindles and e-book readers
Modern technology has brought us some great new tools. A kindle has the ability to read a book on a small tablet. There are speech functions on these items that will read the book to you. Reading aloud can help you practice hearing your own voice level too.
Many lives are on the go and now many mobile devices have applications that can assist us in improving our hearing wherever we may be. In addition, these applications are simple for even children to utilise.
Hear Coach (apple, android) – A tool designed to train and improve your hearing though a variety of listening games with the ability track your progress throughout.
Others that you might find helpful, suggested by speech language therapists;
- SLP minimal pairs (apple)
- Smarty Speech
- Articulate it!
- /r/ intensive
- All About Sounds
- Sunny Articulation Phonology Test
- Speech Hangman
- Talking Tom
- Smart Oral Motor
- Speech Trainer 3D
- Pocket SLP Articulation
- Speech Stickers
- iTake Turns
- ABA flashcards
- iPractice Verbs
- Word SLapPs
- Speech with Milo
- Sentence Builder
- Preposition Remix
- Conversation Builder
- House of Learning
- Story Builder
- Clicky Sticky
- Playtime Theater
- Smarty Ears
- Language Builder
- Cookie Doodle
- My PlayHome
- Family Matters
- Naming Therapy
Web based resources
Websites can also be helpful in helping us test our hearing and challenge us in hearing better.
- Aesop Fables
- English Listening
- Focus English
- Grimm Fairy Tales
- Many Things
- Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
- The Listening Room
Things to do at home
If you have a particular family member or voice that is hard to hear. You can consider some of the following activities to help you improve your hearing.
The Listening Room has weekly activities for different age individuals. The parent section has some great activities to do together with a child with a hearing loss.
Play games as a family. Even simple games like Go Fish can help you learn to listen and participate in a fun activity knowing the subject matter. If you want to make this all more challenging you can add some sound in the background (like a TV or Radio)
Have a family member read you a list of words in which you know the subject matter (colours or numbers 1 – 10). Start out by lip reading the words that they randomly pick. Then progress to not being able to lip read. Then to make this task tougher add some background noise to the room.
There are many things individuals can do to take advantage of their state-of-the-art cochlear implants or hearing aids. Certain techniques go a long way in reducing communication challenges.
- Pay attention: Concentration is very important.
- Develop good listening skills: Concentrate on what is said.
- Observe the talker: What you see supplements what you hear.
- Plan ahead: Think about possible challenges to good understanding. Plan what to do if they occur.
- Take breaks if needed: Listening with hearing loss can be tiring. You can concentrate better if you are fresh.
- Make specific suggestions about how to talk to you: For example, it is better to ask a person to rephrase or slow down rather than just say “What?”
- Provide feedback: If you tell your partner what you heard, both of you will know right away if you understood correctly.
- Double check details: Repeating what you understood someone to say can prevent confusion later on, especially regarding dates and times.
- Do not bluff! Pretending you understand when you don’t is a “no-win” situation.
- Set realistic expectations: Some situations are just too noisy to understand clearly.
Compiled by Marc van Cartier using information obtained from Cochlear Americas, Cochlear Implant Help, Medel & Audiology Online.
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