You’ve been asked to be a personal auditory trainer
What do you need to know?
You’ve been asked to be a personal auditory trainer by a friend or relative. What does that mean? What’s involved?
You will help them work towards better hearing and ease in communicating. You are going to have the very special opportunity to make an important contribution to your friend’s fascinating journey.
Here are some tips for you—a first time auditory speech perception trainer. I hope you find them to be both practical and applicable.*
- Pay attention to the space where you are practicing. During the early rehabilitation timeframe, it is important to keep the auditory training environment as quiet as possible. Practice speech perception in an enclosed space. Close the door and the windows and turn off any appliances that you can that create noise. If there is noise in the house, try to reduce it before starting to practice. It’s possible that you will not be aware of all these interfering noises because we often “tune them out unconsciously.” Hence you may be surprised to find out that your CI user friend is more sensitive to noises in the environment than you are. My advice is to look for a quiet room and adjust the conditions together with the trainee.
- Begin by sitting no more than three feet from the trainee.
- The first step is to verify that the implant is working. Ask the trainee to turn off the hearing aid in the ear opposite to the CI ear and see if they hear the following sounds: /i/ /a/ /u/ /s/ /sh/ /m/. If the person has two cochlear implants, check each one separately.
- Encourage the trainee to be attentive to environmental auditory stimuli and help them to identify any sounds that they are hearing (e.g., car noise, a dog barking outside). When unplanned "auditory events" occur during the session (e.g., phone or door bell ringing, someone knocking on the door, an airplane, rain), raise the awareness of your friend to these sounds prior to your own reaction to them.
- Since the aim is to improve auditory speech perception, you should "hide your mouth" to avoid providing speechreading cues to the trainee. You will probably need to cover your mouth up to your nose. You can use a piece of paper or even better, a speech or acoustic hoop designed restrict visual cues without impacting the intensity or sound quality of one’s voice during therapy. Such hoops can be found online from CI company stores or from other educational institutions such as this one: https://cid.edu/professionals/shop/additional-cid-spice-acoustic-hoop/. You can even make one yourself; there are instructions here: http://www.thespeechbubbleslp.com/2014/07/using-tension-hoops-in-speech-quick-tip.html
- Speak a little slower than your normal speaking rate, and use comfortable speech intensity (do not raise your voice).
- Expect that several repetitions of the stimuli will be needed.
Auditory training should become a part of the CI recipient's life routine, since auditory learning after cochlear implantation is a long-term process. Therefore, your long term commitment, patience, and positive support will be highly valued.
A number of earlier posts suggest specific practice routines. I urge you to go back and take a look at the following. These are perfect ways for a personal auditory trainer to work with an adult recipient.
* For individual assistance, questions and verification requests, please ask your friend to contact their audiologist or speech pathologist.