Early Cognitive Development and American Sign Language
Conflitti, Cynthia, The Exceptional Parent
The earlier a hearing loss is identified,
the better it is for both child
and parent. Early hearing loss
identification and intervention is crucial
to these children. The search for
solutions only begins with a diagnosis.
Hearing parents may be devastated
upon learning that their child has a
hearing loss since it is perceived as a
medical problem, not a communication
problem. Parents usually notice
something is "wrong" with their child,
but are often told not to worry or not
"push the child too fast."
Often, children who are hearing
impaired are in their learning years
before parents take action to address a
lack of speech or attention-seeking
behavior. Children with hearing loss
learn using the primary sense available
to them--vision. It is also important to
remember that they cannot overhear
conversations among other children or
adults in the same way hearing
children do. This affects their cognitive
development. As a result, they
may be labeled as having some form of
Choices in Learning
Learning, to most people, is
absorbing knowledge, the
perceptions, concepts, and
functions of the world
around them. When we think of
learning, we also think about teachers
and schools. What are the learning
choices for preschool children who are
Children with hearing loss, and their
hearing parents, need program and
early intervention options in language
acquisition and normal development.
These options can also assist and
assure parents in understanding and
monitoring their development.
A preschool for children with hearing
loss offers an ideal, visually stimulating
environment to promote learning through
a non-verbal mode of communication.
The preschool's goal should be to
develop communication skills which
will ensure that children can advance
at a normal pace by the time they start
public school with an interpreter, or
attend a special school.
Verbal communication is important,
but learning a language is critical for
children with hearing loss, even if it
involves no speaking skills. A child
who learns sign language in the toddler
years will have better comprehension
and understanding of why and how
language is used.
Using sign language along with
English in the preschool setting
promotes linguistic development.
Even with recent audiological
advances, linguistic input for many
children is limited to what they can lip-read.
Lip-reading can be very difficult,
even for people with developed English