What is a listening check and why should I do it?
A listening check is a simple exercise to help you make sure your baby is hearing and noticing the speech sounds you say to them. You can do this exercise every day to tease out what particular speech sounds they are or aren’t responding to, especially if you have concerns about hearing loss. If your child already has hearing aids or a cochlear implant, do this every day to make sure their hearing technology is consistently transmitting complete speech information to their brain for proper language development.
What sounds should I use?
Use the Ling six sounds. I listed each sound below, and you can also check out the video Odin and I made to show you how! These sounds are used because they cover the full range of speech sounds from low frequency (or pitch) to high frequency. If your child responds to all of these sounds consistently, they most likely have full access to speech through their hearing. If they are consistently NOT responding to the sounds or to certain sounds, then you may want to see an audiologist or your physician to ask about having their hearing tested, as hearing loss can severely impact his or her language development.
“ah” – as in hot
“oo” – as in boot
“ee” – as in feet
“mm” – as in me
“sh” – as in shoe
“s” – as in sun
How should I say the sounds?
First, turn off any background noise to make sure you’re in a quiet environment (no TV, music, clothes washer, etc). Position yourself within three feet of your child, and say each sound individually at normal conversational level. You don’t want to exaggerate them by saying them louder or longer, just say “ah” one time in an inside voice and wait about 10 seconds to give your child time to respond. Then, move on to the next sound. Try doing them in a different order every day so your child doesn’t start to anticipate a pattern and trick you! 🙂 If your baby doesn’t seem to be responding to certain sounds, you can try making those sounds louder or doing a sing-song or pulsed version to see if they respond. See my video for a demo!
How do I know my child heard the sounds?
Change in behavior! Your baby may or may not turn to the sounds or try to repeat them, especially if they are very young. If they are moving or playing, carefully watch for them to still themselves just after you make the sound. If they are lying or sitting still, you may notice that they start moving as if excited and responding to the sound. They may demonstrate eye movement or an eyebrow raise. They may smile or they may respond with a sound in return. Make sure to wait ten seconds to give them time to respond! If you’re just not sure, note your concerns down and see an audiologist or your physician to discuss what you’re seeing.
Hearing loss affects your child’s ability to learn language, so finding out as soon as possible can give you more information on what they are hearing and what they aren’t. The sooner you find out, the faster you can learn your options on how to give them full access to language! For our family, that means a bilingual approach using American Sign Language and spoken English heard via cochlear implants. Please remember that every family is different and should choose your path based on your child and your family’s strengths and beliefs!
Thank you for reading! I hope you find this post and our video helpful. We are excited to share with others! Please reach out if you have any questions or thoughts! I am happy to help!