So much of medicine is based on “best practices.” What works best for the largest number of typical cases, what have studies shown, etc. Why is AV a great first option for parents when they find out that their baby or child is deaf?
Amy: I think it’s because we know that learning to speak and hear is an integral way of being a part of the ENTIRE community. This is the first reason. If we didn’t care about that, then it wouldn’t matter what language, right?!?
Melissa: I also think that it is the language of our families. Even if Elliot and I had learned sign language, would it have been realistic to have expected both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to also have become fluent in sign? We live far from family, and so the cousins did not grow up being a significant part of each other’s lives, but, when they did get together they connected immediately as if they got together more frequently, and my girls were always an integral part of this interaction, something that would not have been possible if they couldn’t communicate with their cousins.
I often hear older deaf adults talk about how they felt isolated from their families and never felt a part of it. I didn’t want this for my children.
Amy: So, even if we lived many years ago and could not do AV, we may have chosen lipreading and oral methods because it was that important to us. Would we have signed, also? I have wondered that. I know that ASL is hard to learn, as hard as learning any foreign language as an adult. Would I have learned it fast enough to speak and teach in complex language to my children? I have often heard the stories of families who DID learn to sign, but only at a rudimentary level. Their kids were still isolated, and outside the immediate family it was rare to hear of people becoming fluent for the sake of a grandchild or buddy.
But today, we have extremely high functioning cochlear implants. I don’t think those who began the acoupedic methods ever envisioned how far we would have come– and how fast. No doubt they would be amazed at how quickly a child can learn to listen and speak. And how easily! If parents choose cochlear implants, the most commonsense approach is to use the new auditory skills. Why get one, otherwise? The goals of parents who get cochlear implants for young children are hoping that their child will hear and speak, and Auditory Verbal Therapy is the most likely way that this can be accomplished.
Melissa: I agree. Given today’s technologies and the successes widely experienced with these technologies, AV should be the first option for most parents if their goal is for their deaf child to learn to hear and speak. Provided the parents are committed to the time commitment and hard work early on, their children will reap the rewards.