Auditory Verbal Principles (AV)
At present there are no certified Auditory Verbal Therapists in South Africa, although WE Learn CEO Warren Estabrooks, mentored a group of South African therapists, audiologists and teachers in 2010. We are fortunate to have Early Interventionists at CHAT who were part of the original group, and also mentor students and offer courses through the University of Stellenbosch every second year.
The Carel du Toit and CHAT centres follow Auditory Verbal Principles undertaken to fit in with international best practice as much as the local circumstances allow. Underpinning Auditory Verbal Therapy is guiding and coaching parents, which has been part of Professor Carel du Toit’s vision for the Centre since its inception in 1973.
In pursuit of early diagnosis (the first principle of AVT), the Carel du Toit Centre’s Community Outreach Project (COP) was started in 2002 at Nolungile Clinic where babies’ hearing was screened as part of their inoculation programme. Throughout the years the dream of early diagnosis evolved under the guidance of Carel du Toit Centre Audiologists until a pilot project was launched for Newborn Hearing Screening in Maternal Obstetric Units (MOU), in partnership with the Children’s Hospital Trust and the Western Cape Government: Health. The Child Speech and Hearing Project subsequently rolled out as an effective screening tool in 2014. At the CHAT Centre we are now seeing the results of this initiative and the Carel du Toit Centre’s pioneering role in it, as the age of babies entering the programme – diagnosed and fitted as AV dictates – are increasingly younger.
The 10th AV principle is to promote education in mainstream schools with peers who have typical hearing and with appropriate services from early childhood onwards. It is our experience, in accordance with this AV principle that the younger deaf infants enter our programme with technology in place and families on board, the younger the children successfully leave the CHAT Centre to integrate into their local mainstream schooling. For those children with additional challenges or who have joined the programme when they are older, the Special Education services of the Carel du Toit Centre are there to support their journey to spoken language until Grade 3. The AV principles of using listening as their primary means of learning spoken language is applied naturally in the school. Promoting day-long use of appropriate technology, encouraging self-monitoring and self-reliance, regular assessments and partnering with parents, fits into the AVT approach. Our Grades classes follow a mainstream curriculum in small classes to help each child reach their unique potential and to be mainstreamed where possible.