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Talk and Play, Everyday!: Lunchtime

April 4th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments »

From time to time, I’d like to post some of my lesson plans for listening and spoken language activities.  For those of you with D/HH children, I’d love for you to try them out and give me your feedback on how they work.  For those of you who are new to AVT/Oral Deaf Education, I hope that these activities will help to give you a better understanding of what this approach is all about!

Yum!  It’s time for lunch… and for some listening and spoken language!  Here are some everyday opportunities to incorporate auditory-verbal principles into everyday meals.

  • Naming all the different foods — don’t be afraid to get specific (it’s not just bread, it’s a slice of wheat bread with  crust), utensils, appliances, containers, etc.
  • Asking for help — help peeling, unwrapping, slicing, cutting, heating, opening, etc.  Remember to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome!
  • Listening opportunities — crunching, wrappers crinkling, silverware clinking on the side of the plate, slurping (is rudeness okay if it’s a teachable moment?), listening for the microwave to beep, etc.
  • Concepts like half/whole, more/less, same/different, empty/full, hot/cold, etc.
  • Synonyms — how many different ways can you think of to say the same thing?  Done/finished/all gone, crunch/bite/chew, trash/garbage/throw it away, clean/wash/scrub/wipe/dry, etc.
  • Life Skills like good manners, safety (using knives, careful around ovens, asking for help when needed), food preparation, etc.
  • Talk with your mouth full.  (WHAT!?!)  If you’re going to talk with your mouth full, it’s only polite to cover it with your hand!  This cues the child to focus on listening, rather than lipreading.  Also, talking with food in your mouth will make your speech sound different, and children will learn to adapt their listening to difficult situations.
  • Cause and Effect  — “Why is your tongue blue?” “Because I ate a fruit roll-up” “Why is your lunchbox empty?” “Because I ate all of my food” “Why is that pizza hot?” “Because I put it in the microwave”
  • Don’t be afraid of a challenge!  (This is one of the hardest things for me to remember!)  Is the word, “utensils” too hard for a 3-year-old?  Is it really necessary to say “my Diet Coke” instead of “my drink” when a child asks you?  Isn’t “mayo” so much easier than “mayonnaise”?  YES… but that’s the point!  Even if a child might not give this language back to you expressively, the more exposure they have to good models of advanced adult language, the more that incidental learning will creep into their brains.  You’ll be surprised at how much of it they really do retain and say back to you… usually when you least expect it!

Little ears are listening!  Give them some FOOD for thought!

Written by

Elizabeth Rosenzweig MS CCC-SLP LSLS Cert. AVT is a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist. She provides auditory verbal therapy, aural rehabilitation, IEP advocacy, consultation, and LSLS mentoring for clients around the world via teletherapy. You can learn more about Elizabeth's services on her Website or Facebook.


dog food

April 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm

ooh, i like “talking with your mouth full”… very innovative.

Curious Eyes

April 5, 2008 at 9:56 am

I’d like to add, as an adult cochlear implant user myself, that the CI makes all this “listening” a lot easier than hearing aids ever did. By “easier,” I mean one can hear the softer sounds of speech (F, S, etc.) as well as the differences between vowels. Add the known and familiar context to the mix (talking about things actually in the room), the pleasant motivational factor of eating and socializing, the ready interpretation of sound information, and the visual input of facial expression, lips moving, etc., I can imagine that these listening skills practices are a lot more fun and easy for little kids than the old-fashioned “oral” approach ever was!

I also believe ASL is very compatible with AVT. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive – there’s no reason that the instruction part can’t be given in ASL. Children acquire visual language just as easily as they acquire aural language, and the acquisition of both can happen simultaneously.


April 5, 2008 at 10:17 am

Curious Eyes, I agree, especially with younger babies who aren’t talking yet, hearing or deaf. Talking with your mouth full could be done with signing with your hands full! Just don’t use a knife!


April 6, 2008 at 4:23 pm


Please continue to post suggestions like these. While we attend a wonderful AV center and have a wonderful AVT, I’m always looking for new ideas. I’d love to see some grammatical morphemes ideas :)

Maybe you could set up an idea bank for parents.

Have you seen the Hearing Journey and Dave Sindrey stuff?


April 6, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Hello Rachel,

I am reposting this because I realized I accidentally posted it on an older post. Oops!



I am not anti-CI nor am I anti-ASL.

I have found that some of your blogs make excellent points. Some of your entries do seem to be biased and advocate the idea that ASL-users cannot be successful…only CI-users. I have not followed your blog very well so I may have missed quite a few entries here and so I may be interpreting your blog incorrectly. If so, I apologize.

I ask you to please remember that there are many ASL users who ARE successful and many CI users who ARE successful. There are also many ASL users who are NOT successful and many CI users who are NOT successful.

What equals success? Only CI and/or ASL does NOT equal success. Early education intervention, maximizing a child’s potential, excellent access to resources, and more importantly….100% access to language regardless of if its via auditory/oral or sign language…is what equals success.

Yes, you are a successful oral person. You had excellent access to resources, support, and access to a language. I have met many CI users who have not been successful simply because they did not have access to resources or support. Similarly with ASL users.

ASL and CI is only part of the equation….

Another thing to take into account is that studies have shown that ASL benefits hearing babies. There are both pros and cons to ASL….likewise there are pros and cons to being oral. Why not allow a child/person to use both only to maximize their potential? Why must we choose one? It is a common myth that children will choose sign language because it is “easy.” Consider all the hearing babies who learn sign language, they eventually stop signing once they have the skills to make themselves understood orally. Signing can be an important foundation in developing language.

Deaf Person

April 7, 2008 at 11:06 am

I am wondering if Melissa (Rachel’s mother) would be willing to input her feedback on this question. How may a deaf family use the AVT with their implanted child at home? Also I have been hearing that many AVT clinics are opposed to deaf parents so how may a deaf family find a clinic that is deaf parents-friendly? Please educate us who are wondering?

Thank you.

April 8, 2008 at 6:20 am

AVT clinics are not opposed to deaf parents, it just take some help from others (daycare, school, verbal family members) to help expose them to spoken language and to help them learn to hear. Deaf parents are doing it everyday, it may be intimidating at first but it is being done. Afterall AVTs specialize in teaching the Deaf to hear so why would they be opposed to Deaf people? Misinformation.


April 8, 2008 at 8:29 am

I know of one family where both parents are culturally Deaf and communicate using ASL. ASL is their language at home, but they have chosen listening and spoken language training for their deaf daughter because they have seen, through their own experiences, how those skills will make life easier for her. The AVT center provided ASL interpreters for the parents (even in group settings, where there were other, non-signing deaf children who would be exposed to ASL… so much for the myth that we are trying to “hide” children from signing!). I am really impressed by these parents. They have made a choice based on their own experience, one that has alienated them from their community, but one that they feel will provide their daughter with the best chance at communicating with the world at large.

Deaf Person

April 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Val and Elizabeth,
Thank you so much for the information. Actually, I have been thinking about having CI for my son. We are a deaf ASL using family. I am still not sure if we will go down the route. Yes, we want more for our son and make his life easier. I have accomplished a lot (competitive figure skater, learned to play the flute, learned some Spanish and Russian, taught ESL at a college, traveled to Europe alone, etc), but I know I could do much more if I had the skill I lack. I have spoken to two families such as this. There is a forum for parents who has CI children and I am not ready to make the decision yet. I just want more and more information. I am also nervous about reaction from the deaf community. Right now my son is getting digital hearing aids to see how they benefit him.


April 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Deaf Person,

Thanks for sharing more of your story. It sounds like you have a big decision in front of you. It’s great that you’ve been able to meet other families with situations similar to yours. I would suggest that you go ahead and join the CI parents group (I’m assuming it’s an internet listserv?) just to “lurk” so you can read what parents who have been-there-done-that have to say. I would suggest cicircle, a Yahoo! listserv.

If you don’t mind me asking:
How old is your son?
Does he currently wear HAs?
Or, if the digital aids have arrived, how is he doing with them?
What kind of school is he in?

I am a volunteer for the Cochlear Awareness Network, and I would be happy to answer any questions you have… so ask away! Seriously, no questions is too small — this is your son’s future! Also, if you’d like to have some information mailed to you, I can do that as well.

Best wishes!

April 8, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Deaf Person, I’m glad you are checking out and following up on the info you receive. I too know of a family where both parents are ASL only while their daughter with ci gets AVT. In fact I would think AVT would be even more important in this situation so the child is sure to learn how to properly hear from the chosen device…AVT can be used w/hearing aids as well, not just ci’s. Good luck.

Another mum

April 8, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Deaf Person, I believe there is actually a forum for parents who are Deaf and who are considering or actually have children who have received a cochlear implant. It was started by parents in a similar situation to you, in that they wanted to know more and equally were aware that it may cause problems with the Deaf community if they choose to go this way.

Deaf Person

April 9, 2008 at 12:41 pm

How old is your son?
12 months old

Unfortunatly I acted like most hearing parents would when they know that their child is deaf. I was running around trying to find an evidence that he was hard of hearing instead of deaf. I used my voice (not perfect) as I signed to him even if I knew that he didn’t hear me but I didn’t care since it could help him learn some lip reading skill. I could have had gotten the HAs for him earlier. I was stil sort of in denial. I feel so bad now that I missed a whole year of opportunities.

Does he currently wear HAs?
Or, if the digital aids have arrived, how is he doing with them?

They have yet arrived.

What kind of school is he in?
Early Childhood Edu program, not a great kind of program. It is more for hearing parents. Teachers go to the homes or a chosen place once a week for 45 minutes to work with the child and meet with the parents. That is it. There are too many children in my state who are not successful with CI because of the restrained time and way the time is used. Also the parents are not given enough or accurate information on CI and deaf education aspects. Many parents still do not know how to work correctly with their CI children as well as giving support to the children. They are generally being told that CI will make their children hearing like it is a magic pill, not through a lot of hard work.

That is why we may have to move to another state if we want this route for our child. [Also for a job in a supportive environment instead of oppressive one, that is another story].


April 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Deaf Person,

Please do not beat yourself up or get discouraged. You are in a hard position. Twelve months is still young, and you’re taking steps in the right direction.

What you have observed about state-funded early intervention programs is sadly true. The agencies are over-worked and under-funded. Many of them serve all sorts of “at-risk” birth to three children, they are not solely focused on deafness which, we all know, is 180 degrees different from other “disabilities”. I think most EI people have their hearts in the right place, they just lack the resources to do better. For better services, many families have had to go through private agencies. The cost of this can be too much for some families, so lots of organizations have been formed to provide financial support:

The Let Them Hear Foundation will provide legal help if your request for CIs/HAs is denied by insurance (

AGBell provides all kinds of scholarships — for families to attend their convention, to help pay for AVT or oral schools, even some for birth-3 that can cover transportation costs if the nearest specialist is far away! Definitely worth a look! (

You’re right that the CI is not a magic pill or a cure. It takes hard work, but it’s all worth it! It is so important that parents know this before the surgery, so it makes me glad to hear you’re searching for information!

So, where do we go from here? My advice would be:
1. Get those HAs and have him wear them all waking hours. This is a challenge for parents, because what baby doesn’t love to play with that new toy in their ear? Persistence will pay off! See this site for ideas:

2. Keep doing what you’re doing! Being a loving parent and giving him all the language stimulation and developmental help you can!

3. Look for listening and spoken language providers in your area, contact them and tell them of your situation. If cost is a problem, look into financial aid and ask the center/school — many have their own fee scales or in-house scholarships. The ASL-using family w/ a daughter who has CIs and signs and does AVT went to the summer program at John Tracy Clinic. An intensive summer program like this (and there are many others like them throughout the country), could be the “kick-start” you need and the professionals at the summer session could help connect you to resources in your area.

4. Keep using your voice with him as you sign. Even if he only hears 1% of it, it’s still keeping his auditory nerve stimulated. Keeping those brain cells firing is so important!

5. Find support for yourself as you make these difficult decisions. You can find this on CI listservs or real-life parent groups. Other parents of children with hearing loss (whether the parents are hearing or D/deaf) have dealt with the same issues you are facing, and could be a good source of friends and support.

Please keep us updated and keep asking questions. Rachel, and I, her mother, and others on this board will be here to help!

Deaf Person

April 9, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Thanks for your advice! Although I am a teacher of the deaf, this is an entirely new path for me since it is my own child and I am learning a lot about the CI. It helps a lot that I have a background in deaf education. That is why I have been signing, talking and reading to my son ever since he was born. It can be exhausting to use full sentences instead of just one word for everything but it is important to do that.

It is so frustrating to me as a teacher to see so many deaf children struggling with the language area especially in those with CIs (at the school). They are a way behind in English compared with many other students without CIs. I think it is because the parents didn’t have the correct information of how to work with CIs and language development in children. One of my student (8th grade) had five CI surgeries (as well as years in ATV) and she barely reads at first grade level. Her mother is still hoping that she will all of sudden become “normal”.


April 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Even better that you’re a teacher! That will certainly help in creating a language-rich home environment! Just wait, those full sentences will be second nature sooner or later. As many on this site have mentioned, AVT principles, because they’re based in developmental theory, give kids a head start in reading and academic skills when they are older. It even rubs off on hearing family members.

A CI is a tool. A fantastic, wonderful, miraculous tool, but still… just a tool. Like any tool, it’s only as good as the people operating it. It sounds like something fell through with some of the children you’re seeing at your school. That’s really sad for them. Unfortunately, as many children who are successful with CIs are mainstreamed into their neighborhood schools, it is the more difficult cases, or cases that did not receive the proper support/ follow-up, that get shuffled away to schools for the deaf, creating a negative perception of CIs. It’s just not a full sample of what children with CIs really can do, because the ones who do well have been described as the “invisible deaf” (Pollack) because they are able to function fairly seamlessly in the world at large. For your son, that could mean that he does equally well in either hearing or Deaf environments and enjoy the best of both worlds. The little girl’s story you mentioned is just tragic. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to be that way.

You mentioned being concerned because you primarily use ASL, not speech, but I think the fact that you are a teacher AND understand how important follow-up is can really make up for that. If you know it’s important for him to have oral language models, hearing people aren’t too hard to find!

Do you think if you chose a CI for your son the school where you work would not be supportive?

Thank you for sharing so candidly about your situation. It’s always fascinating to me how parents go about making decisions about HAs/CIs/communication methods for their newly identified D/HH children. There are soooooo many variables to consider, and each person’s process is unique. Thanks for giving us a peek into what you’re thinking. I cannot wait to see what you choose. Obviously, you know where I stand, but, more than anything, I really hope you make a choice that feels right for you and your family and your son. CI or not, that’s the most important thing in the end!

Deaf Person

April 13, 2008 at 2:53 pm

My son has been approved to receive digital hearing aids which will be paid by a fund in full, yah!!! The program is for hearing impaired children ages 0-3, it helps with the costs of hearing assistances. So it won’t be long before he gets them and we will see how they work for him. He has the same degree of hearing loss as I. When I wear my hearing aid (in my left ear only), the standard kind, I am able to hear a lot of environment sounds and voices (laughing, yelling, talking, etc). I am also able to localize certain sounds. When I was in college, I even trained myself to have a brief chat with my mother on the phone. I only could understand her voice since she worked with me on speech and a little of listening when I was small. I guess I could have done much better in speaking and listening with the current CIs or digital hearing aids if they were around when I was small. My hearing dad was told about the CI when I was about 14 (too late) and he was dead against it while my mother thought, “Why not?”. My dad’s view was that I was not sick and didn’t need “fixing”. However I am very thankful that I had parents who worked so hard with me and encouraged me in doing a lot in my life.


April 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Deaf Person,

Congrats on the approval for your son’s hearing aids! Please keep us posted on his progress.