Bernagh Young here concludes the article about her work at Cheriton Hearing Impaired Unit, Folkestone, that was started in the last issue of GO.
We’d been talking about pets and I wanted to test John on the names of them and decided to use Roamer to help me in this. I made a run for Roamer to move over, I’d drawn various pets on it and attached a tapper switch to the inpu line on the control box. I programmed Roamer so that when John tapped the switch Roamer stopped. John had to use the tapper switch to make Roamer stop on his chosen animal and tell me its name.
After a bit of practice he coped well. This was brilliant because I was quickly able to tell which animals he recognised for himself by sight and could name them as he chose which ones to stop on. Then it was my turn and I told him which ones to stop on, so testing it the other way round. After this we looked at a book of pets together and named them much more readily. It was certainly a good way of getting the words repeated which in turn enables them to be retained in the memory. I’m always looking for new ways of doing this because the more times we hear words and the more times we say them, the easier they are for us to remember. Unlike hearing children who can remember things when they’ve been told them once, we need the continuous repetition, the lip patterns, the practice at forming our mouths in the correct fashion. We need to hear the same words over and over again before we master them and put them into use as part of our vocabulary and this was a useful way of doing it.
I worked again with John for several days after this with great success. He didn’t mind the repetition as long as he got Roamer to move. Then a thought struck me. I wondered how much he interpreted through lip reading and decided to see if I could test this too. Each time I asked him to stop on a specific animal I covered up my mouth so he had to interpret what I was saying purely by listening. I was amazed at how difficult he found it and can only conclude that I need to work a lot more on John’s listening skills and that he was obviously watching very well and relied a lot on lip-reading. He found the single syllable words OK so he was obviously hearing the different medial vowel sounds (all the animals here had different vowels in the middle, I would need to find words with the same vowels and different beginnings/endings such as dog/frog to test the consonants). But he had little idea when it came to the two and three syllable words and evidently this is what I must work on with him next.
I did the same with Helen. She didn’t find either difficult so I can conclude that her lip reading and listening skills are equally good in all the areas considered. It is necessary to make statements like these about the children, they help me to plan my future individual work with them and help me assess where they’re up to. This is a very interesting find and I can see Roamer being an extremely useful tool for such diagnostic experiments and purposes. I now know that John can discriminate single vowel sounds but his language is probably still too immature for anything more. Further experimentation in the same way with the consonants would give more information.
So in conclusion, I found a number of ways that Roamer was of use with my Nursery aged hearing impaired children and they were certainly very excited and enthusiastic about its use. I will certainly be using it in the future to aid my diagnostic testing.