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Auditory Verbal Therapist

Estelle Gerrett, an Auditory Verbal therapist, who works with deaf children and their parents at Auditory Verbal UK, shares her insights.

What is Auditory Verbal therapy?

Auditory Verbal therapy (AVT) is one of the communication options available to families of children with a hearing loss. AVT is an early intervention method that supports parents in developing the skills and knowledge to develop their child’s listening, talking, thinking and social skills through listening. Our programme typically lasts for two to three years with up to 20 hourly sessions per year, either in person or by Skype.

Who might benefit from AVT?

We work with children who have a permanent hearing loss and are under the age of five, which is the critical period for developing spoken language through listening. We work with children with all levels of permanent conductive or sensorineural hearing loss and we encourage families to get in touch with us even if their child is not yet fitted with aids or implants.

What does an Auditory Verbal therapist do?

A therapist assesses each child’s needs and then coaches parents to enable their child to speak by making use of their residual hearing or hearing technology. All activities are play-based and delivered to develop the child’s listening skills. The session begins by checking the child’s hearing through their hearing aids or cochlear implants. The parents are coached to do this at home and equipped with listening strategies to be implemented as part of their everyday routines.

Do you work with children who sign?

Although we don’t use sign in our sessions, some families we work with do choose to sign with their child at home.

How can families access AVT?

Families can contact us through our website. As a charity, we believe that every family should be able to access our programme irrespective of their financial circumstances and so we subsidise all of our fees and the amount that families are charged depends on their household income.

What made you decide to follow this career path?

I was a special needs primary school teacher when my baby son contracted meningitis leaving him profoundly deaf. I wanted a spoken language outcome for him so went back to university and retrained while teaching him to speak. It was a logical pathway then to share this with others.

Can you pick out a highlight of your job?

The best part of my job is coaching parents on how to develop their children’s language and speech. Seeing the thrill for parents when their deaf child utters their first word makes the job so rewarding. Many parents experience stress and anxiety surrounding the challenges their children face and watching that lift as their children succeed makes it all worthwhile.

To find out more about Auditory Verbal UK, visit www.avuk.org.