Natural Aural Approach: Guide

Sue Lewis, Alison Holmans and Cate Statham | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Natural Aural Approach and Atypical Children

Sometimes people feel that because deaf children come from backgrounds where other languages are spoken at home or where parents themselves may have specific needs then a Natural Aural Approach may not be appropriate to use.  This is not the case.  For children growing up in a multi- or bilingual home or where the first language is not English, then the natural language or languages used within a Natural Aural Approach will be that of the home – Polish, Mandarin, Punjabi, Hindi, Welsh etc.  Parents are encouraged to use the language of the home so that the child has access to conversation with all family members.  Once a child has acquired one language, learning another is not problematic.  The deaf child will learn English as they meet other children or start nursery or other preschool placements.  This means that like some hearing children the deaf child may arrive at school with delayed skills in English or the main language of the country in which they live (even though their language skills in their home language may be further forward).  The support they receive in school should take account of this as it would for any child. 

Similarly, if a child’s deafness is not diagnosed until late, the child may arrive at school with significantly delayed language.  In these circumstances we often talk about a child’s ‘listening age’.  The child’s language levels are checked against this to make sure they are making year by year progress and ‘catching up.  (Listening age - the length of time the child has heard language from when they wore their hearing aids consistently).  Again the ways in which any support provided for the child will be used will be affected by this delay and in particular will centre on conversational experience that will drive the child’s language forward, accelerate their listening and language skills and help them to start to close this gap as soon as possible. 

Where children have significant additional learning difficulties the use of a Natural Aural Approach will be determined on a case by case basis; in short the driving principle would be what the prognosis for spoken language development would be if this child had not been deaf.  Hearing children with significant learning difficulties still learn to talk and communicate too, although for those with the most complex needs other approaches might be used to support this.  Whatever the decision made about how to move forward parents would be encouraged to maximise the sound experience that the child has, so that the child’s experience is as multi sensory as possible.