Have you ever heard of the Ling 6 Test? It's a quick listening test devised by Daniel Ling, who was one of the foremost authorities on teaching children with hearing loss how to listen and speak. The 6 refers to 6 speech sounds ranging across the speech spectrum, meaning that the frequencies of these sounds span the audiogram from low to high frequencies, 250 Hz to 2000 Hz.
Why is it important? Well, if you are trying to teach speech to a child with hearing aids or a cochlear implant, you will need to make sure that their amplification device is working properly and that they can hear the sounds in speech. No point in teaching them speech if they can't hear you, right? I can't tell you how many times I have done this quick test only to discover that the batteries are dead. It could even indicate a problem with the mapping of a cochlear implant. It also provides an opportunity for younger children to practice play audiometry, which is crucial for them to be able to get their hearing aid appropriately adjusted or their cochlear implant properly mapped.
You can expect to be able to do this test in less than a minute after the child is trained. You will have to start at the detection level - meaning the child simply has to respond that they have heard something, usually by putting a block or bead in a box or a cup each time they hear a sound. Then as soon as you can, move on to the identification level, by having the child repeat the sound they have heard. This way you know that not only are they hearing something, but also that they are hearing it accurately.
And now, I'll tell you what the sounds are, in order from lowest frequency to highest.
Here is a video of me doing the Ling 6 test with my two year old friend:
By the way, he's not looking at me - he's looking at his mom, which is fine as long as mom doesn't have any 'tells' that let him know he should respond. Which she doesn't. But you can also place a stuffed animal or poster or something in front of them for them to look at while they are listening.
Other considerations when conducting the Ling 6 Test:
- Do not let the child see you
- Speak at a normal loudness level
- Vary your distances, start close and go to 3 feet, 6 feet, and 9 feet
- Do not present the sounds in a rhythmical fashion, or else the child will begin to anticipate the sounds and may give you false responses.
- Present them in a mixed order each time
- I recommend that every parent who has a child with hearing aids or a cochlear implant administer this test on a daily basis. Just make it part of your morning routine.
For fellow speechies: Do you work with children with hearing loss? Do you have hearing specialists in your districts? Do you only work with children with hearing loss if they have a speech disorder, like a lisp or something? Our district has hearing specialists but I always was confused on how their role differed from mine. We always seemed to be working on the same things. And many of my co-workers didn't realize that I do work on listening and language, not just articulation. I would love feedback in this area.