What the Heck are the Ling Six Sounds??

If you have a little one with hearing loss and are using spoken language, you may have heard of the “Ling Six sounds” and wondered what they are. Or maybe you know what they are, but you’re struggling with how to actually use them with your baby. Read below for more information about why we use the Ling Six sounds and ideas about how to make them fun and enjoyable for both you and your little one! Note: this blog post is geared towards parents of young babies (ideally 0-18 months). Looking for ways to use the Ling Six sounds with your older child? Enter your email address at the bottom of the page and we’ll send you this FREE resource! 

1.     What are the Ling Six sounds and why do they matter? The Ling Six sounds, named for Daniel Ling, range across the span of pitches that we need to be able to hear in order to access spoken language. The idea behind using these six sounds is that if children can hear and understand these sounds, they have full access to the speech range. The Ling Six sounds are as follows: “ah, oo, ee, mm, ss, sh” and they range from low pitch to high pitch. One thing I want to mention is that while the Ling Six sounds are important, what matters most is that they are paired with language so that they become meaningful. (More to follow on that.) For families who are focusing on spoken language or total communication, we use the Ling Six sounds as a way to ensure that you and your child are able to communicate with one another.

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2.     What toys do I use with the Ling Six sounds? I suggest making a “Ling Box” where you will keep six toys that are associated with each of the Ling Six sounds. Within the field of listening and spoken language )or “auditory verbal therapy”), there are variations in what toys are used for these sounds. For example, some people may use a toy mouse for the “ee” sound, while others may use a toy car. It does not matter what toys you use, as long as you keep them consistent. Here is a list of common pairings:

AH: airplane

OO: ghost, train

EE: mouse, car, bumblebee

MM: ice cream, baby bottle

SS: snake

SH: baby

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3.     How do I make the Ling Six sounds meaningful for my child? Once you have your “Ling Box” ready, position yourself so that you are nice and close to your child and make one of the sounds out loud at a conversational volume. Be sure to do this while keeping the box closed and the toys out of your child’s line of vision. If your child turns her head, offer praise (“Yes, you heard “AH!”) and then quickly take the airplane out, show it to her and say, “You heard the airplane!” Play with the airplane together. Make it fly while saying “ahhhh!” Have the airplane go “up-up-up” and “dooooown.” Move the airplane through the air while saying “ahh,” then freeze and give your child an expectant look. Once she makes a sound with her voice, move the airplane through the air again. These are just a few of the many ways you can make this activity fun and meaningful for your baby. Just remember to use a lot of language, while also pausing to give your child a chance to “talk.”

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4.     The Ling Six sounds don’t have to be a formal, structured activity. Try sneaking them into different aspects of your daily routines. Is your child waiting in his high chair while you prep a meal? Quickly make one of the sounds, check for a response, and then give him the associated toy to play with while you cook. Changing your baby’s diaper? Make the “ah” sound, wait for her to look at you, and then make an airplane with your hand and have it “fly.” This helps to keep the activity new and interesting for your child while also helping him to generalize his listening skills to new environments.

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5.     Don’t overdo it. Like anything, use the Ling Six sounds in moderation. Don’t expect your young baby to be able to sit through a 30-minute activity using these sounds and toys. Follow your child’s lead and try to end the activity before it becomes boring or a power struggle. Short, frequent bursts are better than one long session a day. If you only get through one sound/toy before your child loses interest, don’t sweat it! Put the box away and when you come back to it later, start with one of the other sounds/toys. Slowly build up to longer periods of time. Before you know it, you and your child will be pros!

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My Child Just Got Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants: Now What??

If your child recently received her first set of hearing aids or just had her cochlear implant(s) turned on, this may be a very exciting and overwhelming time for you. You may find yourself scrutinizing your child’s reactions, desperate to know if she is hearing each and every sound. Unless you have older children who are deaf or hard of hearing, it can be difficult to know what to expect. Read below for some ideas about what skills to look for and what activities you can do to help your child start learning to listen!

1.     Be patient, and try not to compare your journey to others’. The progression of listening development can vary significantly from child to child. Some factors that can affect how a child responds to sound include the child’s age, the degree of loss, and the amount of time he or she has been wearing hearing technology. A 2-month-old baby who just received hearing aids may respond to sounds very differently than a 3-year-old who just received cochlear implants after wearing hearing aids for several years. A child with a profound hearing loss who is wearing hearing aids as part of the cochlear implant candidacy process is going to respond very differently than a child with a mild hearing loss who uses hearing aids. You get the idea. Are you having trouble helping your child adjust to keeping her hearing aids or cochlear implants on? Click here for our blog post with a list of ideas and suggestions.

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2.     Consider your child’s “listening age.” Listening age refers to the amount of time that she has had adequate access to sound. For example, if your 15-month-old was fitted with bilateral cochlear implants when she was 12 months old, then her listening age is 3 months. To put it simply, her ears should be responding to sound similarly to the way a 3-month-old would. Listening age is a simple frame of reference to keep in mind as you are monitoring your child’s responses to sounds.

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3.     Look for cues from your child about how he or she responds to sound. This can look very different from child to child. Does your child startle? Does she stop moving her body and get very still? Do her eyes widen? Does she furrow her brow? Sometimes these responses can be subtle and it may take time for you to get to know the unique way your child responds when she hears a noise.

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4.     When you do see a response, be sure to respond positively. Smile, point to your ear and say, “Yes! You heard that!” Talk to her about what she heard. Show her the sound source when you can. If your baby startles when she hears the dog bark, you can say, “Yes, you heard the dog barking! Woof woof woof!” and then bring her over to the dog so she can begin to make the connection between what she heard and what was creating the noise.

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5.     Make a “Learning to Listen” box. Create a box of toys for early Learning to Listen sounds. Not sure what the Learning to Listen sounds are? Then be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming blog post where we break it down for you! I like to start with the Ling 6 Sounds (ah, oo, ee, mm, ss, sh) and put six toys associated with those sounds in the box (airplane, train, car, ice cream, snake, baby). Keep these toys in a safe place and try incorporating them into play with your baby. The Ling 6 Sounds are particularly important for new listeners. Since your baby can’t tell you what she is and isn’t hearing, this is a simple, fun way to get a better idea of what she’s hearing while teaching her vocabulary and concepts at the same time!  Again, if you’re looking to learn more about what the Ling and Learning to Listen sounds are and how you can use them with your child, be sure to check out back soon for our upcoming blog post on this topic!

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6.     Don’t over test!! Listening should be fun. Many parents find themselves “testing” their baby’s hearing by calling their child’s name, clapping hands, banging pots and pans behind the head—you get the idea. While this can be tempting to do, it is not fun or motivating for your child. In fact, it can completely backfire. These types of sounds do not have meaning for your baby and she may learn to stop responding or tune these noises out. Save the testing for your audiologist to do. Instead, try to remember that listening should be fun and meaningful. The more you incorporate listening into play, the more likely your baby will be to respond!

Questions or comments? Be sure to share below!

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My Child Won’t Keep His Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants On!

Out of all the questions I get from parents of young children with hearing loss, “How do I keep his hearing aids/cochlear implants on?” is one of the most common.  As a parent, I can imagine that this must feel frustrating, overwhelming, and exhausting. Sometimes it’s hard enough just wrestling with your little one to change his diaper or get his clothes on! Add hearing technology to the mix and now you may just want to throw up your hands and wave the white flag of surrender, right? Not so fast! Read on for some quick tips of things you can do to help, along with some reasons why it’s so important not to give up.

1.     Keep the experience positive. I know this sounds tough, but your child will read your cues and respond to the emotions you’re giving off. If you’re feeling uneasy or frustrated when you’re trying to put your baby’s hearing aids on, he will sense that and respond to it. To try and avoid a power struggle, take a deep breath and give your little one something fun and motivating to keep his hands busy while you put his hearing aids or cochlear implants on. If he goes to pull them out, your first instinct may be to say, “No!” Instead, try to redirect his attention to something else or gently take his hands and play a quick game of Patty-Cake or Peek-a-Boo to keep his hands busy and his mind distracted.

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2.     Make a hearing aid/cochlear implant toy box. In an effort to keep your baby busy and distracted, consider making a little box of toys that your child only gets to play with while you are putting his hearing technology (i.e. hearing aids or cochlear implants) on. These toys should be especially exciting and motivating. Make sure the only time your child gets to play with them is when he first starts wearing his hearing aids or cochlear implants that day. If he removes his hearing technology, the box of toys is put away until he allows his hearing aids or cochlear implants to be put back on. Remember to limit the exposure of these toys throughout the day so that they remain motivating and keep your baby’s interest. Consider rotating toys that are in the box to help the box keep some of its “magic” a bit longer. 

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3.     Be consistent. Children thrive with routine and consistent expectations. Incorporate the hearing aids/cochlear implants into your morning routine. Choose a time that you are going to put them on and stick with it. For example, you might decide to put them on every morning after changing your baby’s diaper or after getting him dressed. By keeping this routine consistent, you are helping your baby know what to expect and giving him a sense of security. It also provides him with predictability, which can help him feel like he has a greater sense of control over his day.

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4.     Consider using hearing aid/cochlear implant accessories to help! Nowadays there are so many different types of equipment you can try. Etsy has many different shops that sell hats, headbands, clips, etc. Here are a few you might want to look into:

-Ear Suspenders

-Hearing Henry

-Fun Hearing Aid Clips from PurpleCatAidCharms

-Hearing Aid Headbands from StylishHearing

-Custom Caps from AnchorYourHearing

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5. Get your child excited about his hearing aids or cochlear implants! For older children who are battling their hearing technology, there are hearing aid stickers, hearing  aid charms, etc. Here are a few to consider:
-Hearing Aid Charms

-Decorations for Tubing from EarSavers

-Hearing Aid Treasures from HayleighsCharms

-Decorative Clips for Coils from the Bebopshop

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6.     Try putting your baby’s hearing technology on without actually powering on the device. I usually reserve this strategy as a last resort or in extreme circumstances when a child is really struggling with adjusting to life with sound. Sometimes just getting the hearing aids or cochlear implants on children’s heads is the biggest battle. Once the devices are on and your child is settled and distracted, turn the power on. Make sure you don’t forget this step!! Otherwise your child will be crawling around with very expensive earplugs. If your child does not resist his hearing technology when it is powered off but begins to struggle once the technology is powered on, consult your audiologist.

7. Stay up to date with audiological testing, hearing aid programming/cochlear implant mapping, and ear mold impressions. This can help ensure that your child’s hearing technology is fitted comfortably and appropriately. If your child used to keep his hearing aids or cochlear implants on without any fuss and now is suddenly putting up a struggle, it could be an issue with the fit. There are many factors that can affect the way hearing aids or cochlear implants feel to children. Young babies outgrow their ear molds very quickly, and when they are too loose they feel uncomfortable (and produce that annoying feedback!). Hearing aid tubing (the piece that connects the hearing aid itself to the ear mold) needs to be cut at an appropriate length so that the hearing aid can sit comfortably on the ear. Regular programming/mapping appointments help to make sure that your child is getting adequate access to sound.

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8. Don’t give up! Even though it may seem like things will never get easier, this too shall pass. For parents who have chosen a listening and spoken language outcome for their child, it is so important that your child has as much access to sound and language throughout the day. Without his hearing aids or cochlear implants on, he is missing out on opportunities to learn spoken language. Don’t beat yourself up, just aim to keep those hearing aids/cochlear implants on a little bit longer than the day before. Before you know it, your child will be asking you to put them on!  

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What are some of your parenting hacks for helping to keep your child’s hearing aids or cochlear implants on? Be sure to comment below!


7 Websites for Parents of Children with Hearing Loss (and the Professionals Who Serve Them!)

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7 Recommended Websites for Parents of Children with Hearing Loss

Navigating the world of hearing loss can be challenging and overwhelming. With today’s technology, you can find information and resources about almost anything with just the click of a button! But how do you know that the information you find is valid and reliable? And with all the information out there, it can be difficult to filter through and find what is most valuable. Sound Speech is here to help. Check out our list below to find the websites you don’t want to miss! 

1.     www.hearingfirst.org
Hearing First is an online resource for parents and professionals who are using a listening and spoken language approach with children with hearing loss. Sign up for a free membership and you will gain access to a multitude of resources, including an online forum, webinars, developmental milestones, and more! 

2.     www.agbell.org
The Alexander Graham Bell Academy (AG Bell) is another organization for parents of children with hearing loss who have chosen a spoken language approach. AG Bell is the governing body of all certified listening and spoken language specialists (LSLS). Check out their website to find a list of certified LSLS in your area, apply for parent financial aid opportunities, and learn more about hearing loss and hearing technology. Be sure to subscribe to their free e-newsletter to stay in the loop with all their latest news and updates!

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3.     www.successforkidswithhearingloss.com
Success for Kids with Hearing Loss is a wealth of information for both parents of children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them. This website was created by Karen Anderson, PhD, who is an audiologist and world-renowned pioneer in the field of hearing loss. Dr. Anderson’s website offers a vast multitude of resources, including information about social skills, self-advocacy skills, legal issues in serving children with hearing loss, and more.

4.     www.babyhearing.org
This website is a product of Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska, a nationally known center for children with hearing loss. Their site offers parent-friendly tabs like “What is an Audiogram?” and “How to Protect Baby’s Hearing” to help you quickly find information you are looking for. They have included tips for playtime, reading, maximizing daily routines, and signing with your baby. You will even find videos demonstrating many of these topics!

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5.     www.signlanguage101.com
Are you looking to learn American Sign Language (ASL) but don’t know where to start? Are you already using ASL with your baby but you’re having trouble finding the signs for common words and phrases?  Then be sure to check out Sign Language 101. This free resource includes ten video lessons teaching you the signs for things around the house, verbs, foods and drinks, etc. Videos are led by Dr. Byron Bridges, a nationally-known teacher and lecturer in ASL and a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI). 

6.     www.earcommunity.org
If you have a child with microtia and atresia and you haven’t yet discovered Ear Community, stop what you are doing and go to www.earcommunity.org! This non-profit organization offers an incredibly welcoming community for parents of children with microtia and atresia. Their website has a long list of organizations that offer financial assistance for hearing technology—and as many of you know, that alone is a gold mine!! Check this website out for FAQs about microtia and atresia, surgical options, a glossary of terms, and much, much more!

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7.     www.zerotothree.org

Although not specific to children with hearing loss, Zero to Three is an organization committed to ensuring that all children birth to three achieve their fullest potential. Simply put, this is a must-see resource for ANY PARENT. Their website provides information about practically every topic imaginable, including developmental milestones, potty training, discipline, tantrums, early literacy, screen time…you name it, it’s there! I could not have survived the first three years of parenting twins without it!

Do you have concerns about your child with hearing loss? Call or email us today to learn more about how we can help!


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Theresa Harp, M.A., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Theresa is a certified speech-language pathologist and auditory verbal therapist specializing in serving deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. She owns and operates Sound Speech, LLC, a private practice exclusively devoted to children with hearing loss. It is one of the only private practices in New Jersey that offers expertise in both auditory verbal therapy and American Sign Language. Theresa lives in Hunterdon County with her husband, three young daughters, and a very high maintenance goldendoodle!