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SLP on the screen!

February 3, 2012

While being immersed in the SLP program, and amidst the readings and the meetings and the group projects, it is easy to forget that the outside world exists. So, to reconnect to the non-speech domain, I sat down for a little bit of TV watching (don’t worry, I still got my readings done!). Of course, the first show that I started to watch was centered around an issue critical to the field of speech and language pathology. Switched at Birth is a show on ABC family that centers around two families who discover a hospital error that resulted in them raising each other’s children. Daphne, one of the two children who was sent home with the wrong family, developed meningitis when she was young, which resulted in a hearing loss.

Hearing loss, and its early detection, is a fundamental issue that SLP’s need to consider in their work with children and adults alike. As children, our language learning journey begins when we first start to listen to the language being used around us, a process that can start as early as before birth, in the womb! When there is a block, such as a hearing loss, that prevents a child from getting the language input they need, language delays in expressive, comprehensive and written language can occur. This does not however, mean that a child with a hearing loss loses the ability to communicate. There is an entire culture and language that revolves around the deaf community, and Switched at Birth allows viewers a peek into this world.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that although being deaf does not hinder any of the deaf character’s abilities to communicate, it is not without its challenges. Issues such as the relationship between the hearing and deaf community, and the decisions centering around hearing aids and cochlear implants are explored, and the show is chock full of many examples and demonstrations of sign language (including subtitles for those not fluent in ASL).

So although I may have been procrastinating doing my readings, I was treated to a show that strives to bring awareness to the  deaf community and as one blog I found points out, uses people with genuine hearing impairments to portray the characters in the story. I even managed to pick up a couple of signs! That’s kind of like studying right?

Find more information about Switched at Birth here.

-Adele Courchesne

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