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Look who's talking - tracheotomised children learn to speak differently

Whether in Cape Town, Berlin or Shanghai: all babies and toddlers go through the same developmental stages of language acquisition, regardless of the language they will speak later...

Even without speech, it is possible to have a lively exchange, because communicating is more than "just" speaking.(2) This is particularly evident in tracheotomised children. Through the tracheostomy tube , air flows through the tracheostomy tube and not through the upper airways and thus through the larynx and vocal cords. Because of this, most children cannot form sounds at the beginning and cannot communicate by voice. They cannot hear themselves and do not experience that the voice is a means of communication. Therefore, tracheotomised children initially communicate differently than non-tracheotomised children.(3) In infants and toddlers, their own body becomes the most important organ of speech. Facial expressions and gestures are soon used very well.(2)

A simple sign language is helpful, which is used in therapy with sound-supporting signs. It is not as complex as the language of the deaf and can also be used by lay people without any problems. In this way, the children can communicate before the voice can be heard. A valuable method for the children and their families to open an early communication possibility.(3)

Through targeted training, therapy and appropriate aids, the possibilities of communication should be taught and encouraged so that their natural need and pleasure to communicate and make contact is met. This makes the next step to using the voice an easier one.

Anna, for example, has been tracheotomised since birth and wears a tracheostomy tube. She is a lively child and learns together with her therapist Nicolin Bähre that her mouth fulfils an important function. She learns about the fun of eating and the joy of language.

Read more about this topic in the article by Nicolin Bähre

TRACOE phon assist I: The view through the cannula (Inner values I) with adjustable side supply air and oxygen connection

Promoting child development: speaking valves for tracheotomised children - why its use is so important, Nicolin Bähre

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