Natural Auralism - My Little Ears

One of the most common approaches towards the development of communication in hearing impaired children is natural auralism. Here are some key facts on the concepts behind this auditory oral approach… 

Deaf Education Through Listening and Talking (DELTA) promotes this ‘listening and talking’ approach, and many teachers of the deaf are advocates of this, and even active members of DELTA. The concept behind DELTA is that the majority of deaf children, with the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids or other assistive devices, can learn to listen and talk and so encouraging them to do so opens up their opportunities, access and choice in education now and in their adult lives. Because of the focus on listening with this approach, parents need to ensure children wear their hearing aids or cochlear implants consistently.

With the natural auralism approach, hearing impaired children are encouraged to listen and hear, and use everyday experiences to develop their communication rather than rely on direct teaching. Lipreading is discouraged in this method, and no sign language is used, but children are encouraged to actively try to read facial gestures and body language. The aim of this approach is for children with hearing loss to achieve effective, good speech and it is currently the most common auditory oral approach used. Some of its most distinct features are below:

  • Using children’s hearing aids or cochlear implants during all waking hours to give children full access to as much sound as possible.
  • Treating deaf children as hearing children, whilst equally accepting that more care may need to be taken to aid hearing impaired children in joining in conversation and accessing their environments.
  • Not actively focusing on deafness, but rather looking on it as being ‘managed’ alongside the child’s other needs.
  • Encouraging children to listen rather than look when communicating with others.
  • Using natural speech patterns, including speed, annunciation and tone when speaking to hearing impaired children to promote enjoyment of conversation.
  • Stimulating deaf children to enjoy listening by creating an auditory environment. In terms of social environments, the auditory oral approach will allow your deaf child to mix well with others that communicate through speech (deaf and hearing). However, as your child gets older, extra help may be needed to support friendships, especially if group chatter is involved.  

Many children who use this approach will be educated alongside hearing children in mainstream schools. Depending on the individual child’s needs, there are also special schools for deaf children that use oral approaches. When using this approach whilst attending mainstream school, your child should have regular input from an assigned teacher of the deaf. Teachers of the deaf should be assigned as soon as possible after a hearing loss is diagnosed and confirmed. They can support you in your home during your child’s early years and then attend pre-school and school to support your deaf child later on as they progress through the education system.