Communication, Language & Speech
Communication - is all about interaction. It includes non-verbal (exchanging glances, smiling, pointing, and playing games) and verbal (using language to give or receive information) interaction. We need the skills of communication (turn-taking in conversation, talking etc) to interact comfortably with others.
Language - is what takes place in our heads - thinking and reasoning in words and sentences (or signs), and it includes understanding and using quite complex grammatical rules. We all need language to think, to order our lives and to express our thoughts (through speech, writing etc.).
Speech – for most people speech is the key to language development. When hearing babies’ and toddlers’ care-givers talk to them fluently, consistently and about everyday activities, they will start to associate a word or phrase with an object or activity. They are leaning the English LANGUAGE.
A baby will respond, first non-verbally (looking or pointing), then verbally (they speak!!). Care-givers reply and gradually conversations take place. Speech is both the first ‘way in’ to language and the first expression of language. As time goes on, care-givers use increasingly ‘grown-up’ language and babies learn more language in return.
The result is a wonderful, communicative, language-learning, virtuous circle.
And when children start school, they have the language they need to learn to read, and then they learn yet more language through reading. They have the means to express their language through talking and writing. Another happy virtuous circle!
For deaf children this can all break down at the very first stage - if they can’t hear the speech their parents use, or they hear it indistinctly or intermittently - they don’t (or don’t easily) learn language. Then, because they don’t understand English (or not fully), learning to read and write in English is very hard.
For deaf children Cued Speech does the job of speech; it is visual speech.
Speech, in English, is made up of only 44 different sounds or ‘phonemes’ which, in different combinations, make up all the tens of thousands of words in our language. When you use Cued Speech you turn the 44 phonemes of speech into visible units which can, like sounds, be combined into words, sentences and, as a result, full language.
When parents of deaf babies learn to cue, and use it as they talk naturally with their child, they, like hearing children, can learn full language easily and naturally. Most deaf children who learn language through Cued Speech communicate with speech too (although their diction may be poor, especially to start), but some communicate with Cued Speech. With Cued Speech deaf children can join in with the rest of the family and, with unambiguous communication, parents can be effective parents. With an understanding of English deaf children can more easily speechread and communicate in English with people who don’t cue.
With Cued Speech use, the language-learning virtuous circle will fall into place, just as it does with hearing children.
Also, because the 44 phonemes of Cued Speech are the same as the 44 phonemes of speech (indeed they are speech with an added ‘cue’), deaf children can learn to read using the same techniques as hearing children and have equal literacy levels.
It’s best started with babies, but it's never too late to benefit from Cued Speech use.
CS complements what deaf babies and children hear through their implant or hearing aid, and it works even if they hear nothing!
Just as hearing children learn a full spoken language thorough listening to speech, so deaf children can learn a full cued language through the watching Cued Speech