Tuesday, March 11

Stimulating Interaction

How do you get an infant with profound hearing loss to interact with you when you can not get his attention through sound?

It is natural for all babies - hearing and not - to make fun little cooing noises. Babies born with hearing loss do not get any reinforcement of the noises they make, so eventually over time these cooing noises will die out. It is important to try to interact and "talk" to your infant as much as possible to encourage this interaction. We found several things helpful:

We would get really close to Drew's face and make eye contact with him. In order to achieve this I would lay him on my lap, hold his hands in mine and put my face down close to his. As soon as he would look in my eyes I would instantly start talking to him. Then I would smile, make funny faces, play peek-a-boo to keep him talking, laughing, playing. Drew made some really good "ahh" and "goo" sounds when he was around three months old, and I suspect all parents of children with hearing loss have heard similar sounds from their child at a young age.

A Baby play mirror is an excellent toy to help stimulate interaction for an infant, especially one with hearing loss. If you sit the mirror next to your baby and turn his head so that he is looking at his reflection in the mirror the conversation begins! Drew would talk to himself all the time in that mirror. It was the best thing our Parent/Infant Educator ever told us to buy! We got so much use out of it - and Drew loved it. It is also good when the baby begins to push up because you can sit it in front of them and reward them for holding their head up. Drew really enjoyed this toy.

Drew was always attracted to lights. I think that because he couldn't hear he had a heightened sense of sight. So, if we were having problems getting him to look at us and interact with us because of the lights we would either move him or turn it off to get his attention.

We found Baby Einstein videos to be an excellent way to stimulate Drew's interaction with things around him. Drew loved watching the colors and dancing animals on the screen. I don't think he got anything in terms of auditory stimulation, but I know that he was interacting with it and would make noises of excitement.

Cause and effect toys are great for stimulating interaction as your baby gets a little older. Anything that rewards the baby for an action. Anything with a cause and effect. This helps a baby understand what will happen with conversation - you say something, I respond. Some of our favorite cause and effect toys are a spin top, busy ball popper and busy gears toy.

I actually think that it is quite amazing how well deaf and hearing impaired babies do at interacting with their environment, at least in my (limited) experience. My guess is that as a child gets older this interaction would die out. All the more reason for early intervention and appropriate amplification.


marisa said...

nice post! thought you may be interested in this article, too.

These tips can apply whether you sign, cue, or speak with your child.

A Good Start:
Suggestions for Visual Conversations with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Babies and Toddlers

By Patricia Elizabeth Spencer, Ph.D./January 2001

Full article:

marisa said...

oops, let me link to the URL

Visual Conversations article

Christian's Mommy said...

What a great post---I've been meaning to do something similar. I am definitely cross posting this! :)

Steph said...

Thanks so much for this! (And thanks, Drew's Dad, for directing me to this. I do remember now that I'd read it in the beginning of my obsessive reading of the blog in the first week after Q's diagnosis.)