growing up with hearing loss
What it was like growing up with hearing loss before digital hearing technology
May 21, 2018
unilateral hearing loss
Community spotlight: Callie’s hearing aid helps her hear like a superhero
May 23, 2018

A fun way to learn animal sounds and grow communication skills for children with hearing loss

communication skills for children with hearing loss

Spontaneous dance parties and nonstop giggles were some of the advantages that my daughter and I experienced this week while using the BabyBeats app by Phonak and Advanced Bionics.

BabyBeats™ is an early intervention resource that taps into the amazing benefits of music to help develop a child’s auditory brain while working on language and speech development. As a family, we have been trying out each section of the BabyBeats app. This week, we jumped into the Explore Animals section.  

Speech and Language Benefits 

As a parent of two children with hearing loss, I am always looking for ways to help them with their development. I try to find ways that are engaging, fun and effective. I can imagine that activities focusing on speech and language development were not the highlights of childhood for some children when they were growing up. But, BabyBeats doesn’t even feel like therapy. The moment the music comes on, Sayge’s hand is in the air and she is swaying to the music with pure joy in her eyes.

“The moment the music comes on, Sayge’s hand is in the air and she is swaying to the music with pure joy in her eyes.”

BabyBeats helps to develop communication skills by using music to stimulate multiple brain areas. I love all the bonding that is constantly happening while knowing it’s great for Sayge’s communication development.

The app is easy to use as it is broken down into four main sections. This week, we did the “Explore Animals” section. There are three specific songs that fall under this section. The songs are unique in that there is music and then the music stops and an animal sound plays or you can make your own animal sound. This helps work on early listening skills, mainly understanding the difference between sound and silence (sound awareness) and being able to hear the difference between the music and animal sounds (talking). When we played the “Animal Sounds’ track, the structure (music-silence-animal sound) works on a number of really important skills for Sayge in her early language development.

At a foundational level, this section helped encourage Sayge to tune into and identify when the music stopped and started, a significant listening skill for her. While this ‘sound awareness’ skill might not seem like a big deal on the surface, for where Sayge is at developmentally, it is a big deal. Her ability to distinguish the sounds around her is important. As she grows, she will build on this skill by being able to identify the animal that belongs to the animal sound.

Read more: How exploring instruments can help develop listening skills for children with hearing loss

Another great skill we encouraged this week was introducing animal sounds and new words. When the music paused, it grabbed Sayge’s attention. This brief absence of sound helped her tune into the animal sounds that would be coming. This allowed us to introduce new sounds and vocabulary to Sayge while keeping the attention of her sweet little 15-month old brain.

Where you can use BabyBeats in your everyday life

We used the BabyBeats app in many settings. One morning, we were waiting for my son’s bus to pick him up and it was a few minutes late. We had some time to spare and decided to play the musical tracks in the app. We all danced around as we listened and acted out the animal sounds. Other settings included the high chair, the bathtub, and the car. Additionally, we continue to use BabyBeats at Sayge’s baby group at Child’s Voice. Our group meets every other week with a couple other parents and their babies. This week, all of Sayge’s baby group explored animal sounds together. The ease of the app makes it possible to incorporate the activities in all these settings.

communication skills for children with hearing loss

Language Growth 

We feel encouraged by Sayge’s speech and language development. There are endless foundational language developmental skills happening. One of my favorites this week is when Sayge imitates with her lips the actions of the sounds. For example, when “meow” comes on in the song, I will say the word and show her, exaggerating my mouth movements a little bit. Sayge will do the same. She presses her lips together, and scrunches up her nose, and opens her mouth. I haven’t heard her say “meow” yet, but I know it’s around the corner.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out how to use BabyBeats, there are great suggestions on the app. You will find how-to videos with tips for parents. Helping our children develop communication skills does not have to be a tedious and painful process. It can be engaging, fun, and effective. 

BabyBeats is the new early intervention app by Phonak and Advanced Bionics. It is currently available for download on IOS and Android in the US, Canada, UK, and Switzerland. For more information CLICK HERE. Let us know what you think of BabyBeats™ in the comments!

Author Details
Melissa Hyder is a mom of three and a lover of life. She loves adventure – from wearing bright red lip stick for the first time, to traveling to an uncharted area. Two of her children were born with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, likely from genetics. They wear Phonak Sky hearing aids, or as they call them, their “Super Ears.”