The speech–language pathologists, audiologists and deaf educators at Boys Town National Research Hospital are specialists in aural (re)habilitation. (Re)habilitation involves comprehensive assessment and treatment of individuals with hearing loss. Candidates for aural (re)habilitation may include individuals that are deaf, hard-of-hearing, hearing-aid users or cochlear implant users. Clinicians help support a variety of communication preferences, including, but not limited to, oral communication, Signing Exact English (SEE), American Sign Language (ASL), and Cued Speech.
Cochlear implant users can benefit from services designed to maximize auditory potential. The professionals at Boys Town National Research Hospital are here to encourage and support the individual progress through the development of and/or maintenance of auditory skills. This task can be accomplished through a variety of mechanisms, both formal and informal. This may be as simple as learning to integrate the sounds in the individual’s environment to learning how to listen in difficult listening situations. To obtain optimal benefit, the implant recipient must learn how to use the new sound information provided.
Children can benefit from services designed to maximize potential with a cochlear implant. For some, services may involve weekly therapy that supports language, auditory and speech development. For others, services may be scheduled in conjunction with programming appointments and may focus on supporting school-based clinicians and/or other hospital-based clinicians in designing and implementing effective and efficient treatment programs.
During the initial assessment, clinicians analyze all aspects of communication using both formal and informal measures, including:
- Formal examination tools – Tools may include standardized tests that assess speech production, speech perception, expressive and/or receptive language, vocabulary, basic concepts and communication modality.
- Informal methods – Methods may include language sampling and analysis, probing for functional auditory skills and stimulability of sounds, observation of communication repair strategies, and documentation of communication preferences.
Intervention methods are individualized and may include speech production, expressive/receptive language, vocabulary, and auditory/speech-reading training activities.
Ongoing assessment is an important part of the everyday therapy. This continued attention helps to ensure the quality of services and serves as a means by which to measure progress.