Sound Association Therapy

Today we had our second speech therapy session for Fiona at the Audio Verbal Center, and our first full session with our new therapist Aneesha. In our first session we spent the majority of the hour answering a questionnaire and learning about the program, so we were excited to get down to some hands on therapy today.

Because Fiona is only 3 1/2 months old, there is only so much we can do at this stage, but its still good to start off with the basics. We began with Sound Awareness – testing her response to various sounds throughout the room, much like we did in the last session. As expected we didn’t get much response there, so moved on to Sound Association.

The key for Sound Association is to train Fiona to mentally connect something visual with the introduction of a new sound. This is valuable because it will speed up her recognition of sounds down the road once she gets her implant. While you’d think this would be obvious, remember up to that point she will have never known the concept of sound. The visual cue is a shortcut to prompt her to seek out and associate this new sensation to the meaning of sound we take for granted. The beating sound of a drum means something, I should pay attention. Etc.

The process works basically like this:

  1. You introduce an upcoming new sound in your best silly baby talk voice: “Here comes the bell!”
  2. You make a noise and point to your ear. This is the association. (Ring! Ring!)
  3. You reinforce the new sound and show excitement. “That was a bell, yay!”

Eliza is a natural:

Sound Association

Sound Association

While Fiona likely can’t hear the sound, she does pick up on the excitement and notices the ear pointing means something special just happened. “This is exciting, I should pay attention to that!”

After her implant, the same exercise will now be more effective because she will already have learned to associate the finger to the ear motion with the introduction of something new and noteworthy.

It’s pretty neat to learn the basic cognitive foundations of skills we take for granted. Over the next 2 weeks our homework is to continue the sound association exercises with sounds of different frequencies. Dad has the bass tones covered.

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