Speech Therapy for Adults and Adolescents With Hearing Loss

A speech-language pathologist can help adults with hearing loss become better communicators. Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

It is not uncommon for most people to think of speech therapy as something children might need to help them speak more clearly. Yet, adolescents and adults with hearing loss may also benefit from the assistance of a speech-language pathologist. There are a number of conditions which may affect an adult’s ability to hear.

A sudden or gradual loss of hearing due to a number of causes such as a head injury or genetic predisposition can be significant. Some conditions are more serious than others, yet any that the compromise the ability of the person to hear will affect many aspects of daily life. 

A New Way of Hearing Impacts Speech

One of those areas is the accurate perception of one’s own voice. Typically, we monitor our voice and speech production in a continuous ongoing fashion or a constant ‘feedback loop’.  We hear our own voice and make adjustments as we judge the volume, pitch, resonance, and the intonation pattern of our speech. While speaking, we also tend to the preciseness of the words we articulate and the accuracy of the pronunciation of those words. This ability can be particularly important for those who depend on voice, vocal projection, enunciation, and speech in their careers but also for adolescents who want to fit in with their peers and not be seen as different due to the quality of their speech.

Fortunately, technological developments made in the field of amplification have come a long way since the ear trumpet. The advances in digital signal processing, remote microphones, noise reduction, and speech intelligence of today's hearing aids have provided much better sound quality for people with hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Technology

Amplification may be achieved through many different styles, such as Behind The Ear (BTE), In the Ear (ITE),  In The Canal (ITC), Completely In The Canal (CIC) and Receiver In The Canal (RIC) hearing aids. Other options for amplification include bone conduction hearing aids and cochlear implants (CI). Regardless of the technology chosen, the need for auditory training from a certified speech-language pathologist can play an instrumental part in the successful use of amplification.

There is a practical component to consider with regards to the care of the devices, troubleshooting the devices and having the resources available for maintenance and repair if needed.It is important for the audiologist and speech-language pathologist to communicate in order to best serve all the patient's needs.

Compensatory Strategies

Compensatory strategies are considered important for maximizing the benefits of amplification.  A speech-language pathologist will be able to assist in the retraining of the brain for a ‘new listening system’.

A speech-language pathologist may provide insight and guidance to the overall improvement in speech production and voice projection specific to a person’s needs, including career demands.

Learning to use visual cues from the environment and from other speakers to improve comprehension of the spoken word may increase personal satisfaction with the device and, therefore, increase the wear time of the device. Positional strategies, as well as environmental awareness, may enhance the benefits of amplification.

It is important to remember that the journey of amplification is typically a process of adjustments, which can prove successful with support.The speech-language pathologist should be included in that support system.

How to Find a Speech Language Pathologist

To find a certified speech-language pathologist in your area, The American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA) has a feature on their website where you can enter your zip code and obtain a list of providers near you. You can also ask your audiologist for a recommendation.

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Article Sources
  • ASHA Pro Find (n.d.)American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association. Accessed from http://www.asha.org/profind/