Parent training: vocabulary growth for toddlers with hearing loss

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Toddlers with hearing loss do not gain vocabulary at the same rate as toddlers with normal hearing. Some of the reasons for this delay are out of our control as therapists. We cannot change a child’s speech perception or the age at which the child received amplification. What we can do is manipulate the child’s environment to promote vocabulary growth.

Lund trained six parents of toddlers with hearing loss in two strategies: transparent naming and linguistic mapping.

Transparent naming is using a new vocabulary word while visually signaling (pointing) to the referent. This has been found to increase children’s vocabulary skills (groundbreaking, I know).  All six parents were able to increase their use of transparent naming with just two 45-minute training sessions.

Linguistic mapping is a little more complex. It involves overlaying words on a child’s communicative act after that child has initiated intentional communication. This is not simply narrating the actions of a child. It requires the communication partner to correctly interpret a child’s communicative attempt and quickly generate an appropriate utterance to go with it.  Only half of parents were able to adequately demonstrate linguistic mapping after two training sessions, which suggests that a little more time might be needed to teach parents this particular skill.

After training sessions were completed, four out of six children increased their rate of word learning. If you have any tots on your caseload with hearing loss, or who are struggling with word learning, you might consider training parents in transparent naming and linguistic mapping.

Lund, E. (2018). Effects of parent training on vocabulary scores of young children with hearing loss. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1–13. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1044/2018_AJSLP-16-0239