All About Early Intervention at the Cora Barclay Centre

21 March 2017

Today, we continue our series focusing on building an understanding of the services and support offered for children and young people at the Cora Barclay Centre.

The majority of children diagnosed with a hearing loss will enter Early Intervention. But why is early intervention so important for children who are deaf and what happens during Early Intervention? 

At the Cora Barclay Centre Early Intervention is from birth to 5 years of age. This period is vital for children who are deaf or hearing impaired as experts suggest that children who have not acquired speech by 3.5 years of age will have much more difficulty in doing so.

But they have hearing aids / cochlear implants? Why do children who are deaf or hearing impaired need intervention?

Let’s take a step back, why is Early Intervention for children who are deaf necessary? This is a question we get asked a lot at the Cora Barclay Centre, and it’s quite understandable. We hear about children getting hearing aids, or see YouTube videos of a baby receiving sound for the first time when their cochlear implant is switched on and we assume that the child is now ‘hearing’.

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. A child with a hearing loss has had limited or no access to sound up until hearing technology has been fitted. In the early years a child’s brain is very malleable and so all of the brain centres that would normally be associated with hearing begin to change their functions.

Once a hearing impaired child begins to receive some sound into the brain via state of the art technology, the auditory centres of the brain begin being stimulated and the child can learn to “listen”.

The therapy program is designed to develop a child’s listening skills so that they can comprehend language and, in turn, develop speech.

What kind of therapy is used at the Cora Barclay Centre to do this?

The Cora Barclay Centre provides Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT) with highly trained Listening and Spoken Language Specialists (LSLS) in our Early Intervention program.

AVT sessions occur weekly, fortnightly or monthly, depending on the individual needs of the child and circumstances of the family. Sessions are usually one hour in length, are play based and incorporate singing and reading.

Is it vital that a parent or caregiver attend AVT with the child as, in reality, the therapy program is actually about teaching the parent, and not the child. The parent is with the child during most waking hours so they need to have the skills and knowledge to support their child to listening and speak through meaningful experiences during their day to day activities.  

Why don’t you teach children?

An LSLS will work with a family for at most, an hour a week, and although this is a great length of time to understand the current needs of the child, and plan for how to overcome these, the intensive therapy require to make AVT work actually happens at home, in the playground, at childcare; and all the other places the child spend time.

Therefore to ensure the best possible outcome for a child the time spent in an AVT session is on teaching the parent or caregiver how to use AVT and all of its techniques to change the way they interact with their child to give maximum listening opportunities and language learning.

The activities undertaken in therapy, and those suggested to the family to continue at home are specifically chosen to address the child’s individualised listening, speech, language and cognitive goals.

But what actually happens when you are teaching a deaf child to listen and speak?

AVT is a play-based therapy to ensure maximum engagement and learning for a child. Activities are chosen that are developmentally appropriate for the child’s cognitive abilities. A motivating activity is the foundation for great listening and learning. Below is a short video taken from an AVT session at the Centre.

Why does the Centre use AVT?

The Cora Barclay Centre firmly believes that AVT is the optimum method of support to help children who are deaf or hearing impaired achieve age appropriate speech and language. Our beliefs are founded in research and continue to be upheld as we conduct our own outcome studies each year.

Research tells us that:

  • Over 90% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents. AVT is about immersing the child in their first language. AVT does not require families to use a visual form of language (e.g. sign language or lip reading).
  • Most children with hearing loss who participate in Early Intervention Auditory-Verbal Programs listen and speak proficiently.
  • Children with hearing loss who participated in Early Intervention Auditory-Verbal Programs make progress in spoken language, reading, mathematics and self-esteem at the same rate as a matched group of children with typical hearing.(1)
  • Children with hearing loss have better outcomes than a matched group of children in an Auditory-Oral, or Bilingual Bicultural program after three years of cochlear implant use.(2)
  • Children enter school after participation in Auditory-Verbal Early Intervention programs with age equivalent spoken language outcomes.(3)

Are there any other parts of the Early Intervention Program?

The Cora Barclay Centre offers family-centred, holistic support to children with hearing loss and their families, so AVT is only one part of how we offer assistance.

Our group programs provide an essential component of the Early Intervention Program. Not only do they continue AVT principles in a group setting, but they provide social and emotional support for children and parents from other people who are on the same journey. The connections made through our group programs can create life-long friendships and support structures for many families.

Continuing on the social and emotional aspects of our service the Centre also has a Child and Family Counsellor available for all families to meet with. Families can meet together as a unit, or if preferred the Counsellor can spend one on one time with family members to help them resolve any issues and help maintain their mental health.

Some children may also require speech therapy once a child has been hearing optimally for three years. The speech therapy can work alongside AVT.

Finally the Centre has its own Audiologist that families can access to monitor progress, troubleshoot equipment, receive cochlear implant mapping and learn more about device management. In addition Australian Hearing visit the Centre once a month to allow families to get new ear moulds.

The Centre truly is a one stop shop for families.

When happens when a child turns 5?

It’s probably more accurate to say that children graduate from our Early Intervention Program when they go to school, rather than when they turn 5. At that time there are a number of options open to families.

If required the Centre can continue to support a child throughout their schooling through our Student Services Program, and we do this for many of our families. But that will be another blog post for another day.

Do you have any questions about our Early Intervention Service? Pop them in the comments below.

If you would like to talk to us about AVT or Early Intervention in general please get in touch. 


1 Dornan, Hickson, Murdoch, Houston, & Constantinescu, 2010

2 Dettman, Wall, Constantinescu & Dowell, 2013

3 Constantinescu, Dorman, Rushbrooke, Brown, McGovern, Close, Hickson & Waite, 2007, 2009;

Hogan, Stokes, White, Tyszkewicz & Woolgar, 2008


Sean Tubridy

29 March 2017 - 03:56 pm


I’m disappointed to see the post some of things. I disagreed with it. I encouraged you to welcome deaf parents of hearing loss babies access at your centre for best services if deaf parents signing. You can educate them about AVT before start AVT therapy before agree to go ahead.

I would like to tell you about my bilateral CI son went thru AVT without learning sign language and he did his homework around the places etc from AVT. We communicate together sign language at home because it’s not my own fault due most powerful hearing aids no use for me and no technology for CI that time in 1970s he can communicate with people himself without sign language. It’s all about family and deaf child best interests. No difference to hearing families who have strong overseas country culture background in different spoken languages. I would high recommend any deaf and hearing parents with hearing loss babies to attend your centre same as other AVT organisations anytime. All the best cheers.

I hope to hear from you soon

Thank you



30 March 2017 - 01:44 pm

Thank you Sean for your comment.  I am sorry that this blog has provided a picture that we do not welcome families where the parents first language is Auslan.  This is not the case.

I totally agree with you that it is really important that all families hear about all options available to them.  We want parents to make an informed choice and choose what is best for their child and their family.

We have had families attend the Centre in the past whose first language is Auslan and they have wanted an oral outcome for their children.  Following a family centred approach we have welcomed these families onto service and developed a program that is best suited for these families.  The programs that we provide in these situations are not AVT in a pure sense as signing is present in the child’s day to day life and used in therapy to communicate with the parents.  This approach allows for the parents and extended family members to incorporate many of the AVT components into the day to day routines of the child and to fosters the development of oral language while using sign language. 

I think it is great that your son has been able to learn both languages and thank you for reading our blogs and providing a great comment.

Sean Tubridy

30 March 2017 - 09:54 pm

Great comment reply i agreed with your blog and most of researches thank you All the best to CBC cheers.

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