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Listening and Spoken Language Carves a Path in France

Ophélie Dauger is an enthusiastic and experienced Speech Language Pathologist who practices in Châteaubriant, France.

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Written By: Stephanie Farber, M.S.D.E., vice president of AG Bell – Arizona Chapter

Ophélie Dauger is an enthusiastic and experienced Speech Language Pathologist who practices in Châteaubriant, France. She also has the distinction of being the first ever Certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS) Auditory Verbal Therapist (AVT) in her country. We caught up with Ophélie to find out more about what drives her and how she first found out about Listening and Spoken Language (LSL).

When she first began to work with a caseload of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing, she began to explore the topic. She became particularly intrigued by the website of a mother in France who wrote about her experience of working with an American AVT, and contacted her by email. This led her to find a small group of families who were exploring AVT intervention, but with limited to no availability in their country.

Thus began Ophélie’s journey over 15 years to become a fully certified AVT. Not only is she the first certified therapist in France, but she is mentoring a colleague who is pursuing certification and knows of at least one other who has started training. This is remarkable in two ways: they are using a second language to learn, and they work with teachers and mentors who may not be familiar with their local situation.

When introducing AVT theory and practice within their professional networks, Ophélie and her colleagues encounter many typical challenges: professional sensitivities and resistance to change established practice, even though many professionals are intrigued and want to find out more. There can be conflict between a culture of professional expertise and resistance to the urgency that parents and AVTs recognize about building an auditory brain from the earliest possible time.

Existing culture around what it means to be deaf is strong. The typical exchanges take place around the primacy of sign language and the understandable affront that is felt by the Deaf community to what they perceive as a negation of their identity. This in turn tends to dominate the discussion and influence the attitudes of families, professionals, and wider society. Strong perceptions exist in many components of society and challenging the status quo or “the way we have always done things” is often needed to make room for growth, change, and new paths. Providing people with options has always been a way to open up the world and underscores exactly why it is so important that parents be made aware of Listening and Spoken Language as well as other options they may want to consider for their child.

Ophélie has embraced the need for change. More and more families seek out her services, having already researched AVT and other options on the internet. Word of mouth is also crucial, with networks of families informing and supporting one another via social media, as well as opening up discussion with professionals who provide their services. Ophélie says that in due course, she would like to see AVT securely in the mainstream and offered as an option in her country to all families who wish it. As Ophélie says: “[Now] more and more families can access this service. Because of the families, professionals are changing their minds.”

Ophélie, her colleagues, and an increasing network of energetic and well-informed families are bringing about change in their country. Perhaps the children participating in France’s first AVT program will provide convincing evidence for its viability as an early intervention option for children with impaired hearing. LSL can help provide those children full access to education and community life.

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El enfoque de Escucha y Lenguaje Hablado se abre camino en Francia

Ophélie Dauger es una logopeda con un gran interés y experiencia que ejerce en Châteaubriant, Francia. Tiene también la distinción de ser el primer terapeuta auditivo-verbal (TAV) que cuenta con la certificación de Especialista en Escucha y Lenguaje Hablado (LSLS, por sus siglas en inglés) en su país. Nos pusimos en contacto con Ophélie para averiguar más sobre sus motivaciones y cómo descubrió el enfoque LSLS.

Cuando empezó a trabajar con casos de niños pequeños con sordera o hipoacusia, se interesó por este tema. Se sintió especialmente atraída por el sitio web de una madre en Francia que escribía sobre su experiencia de trabajo con una TAV estadounidense y se puso en contacto con ella por correo electrónico. De esta forma pudo localizar a un pequeño grupo de familias que se planteaba la intervención de la terapia auditivo-verbal, pero cuya disponibilidad era limitada o nula en su país.

Así comenzó el itinerario de Ophélie durante más de 15 años hasta convertirse en una TAV plenamente certificada. No solo es el primer terapeuta certificado en Francia, sino que también es tutora de un colega que persigue la certificación y conoce al menos a otro que ha empezado su formación. Se trata de un hecho destacable por dos motivos: utilizan un segundo idioma para aprender y trabajan con maestros y tutores que pueden no estar familiarizados con su situación local.

Al introducir la teoría y la práctica de la terapia auditivo-verbal en sus redes profesionales, Ophélie y sus colegas se encuentran con numerosos desafíos típicos: susceptibilidades profesionales y resistencia al cambio de la práctica establecida, a pesar de que numerosos profesionales sienten interés y desean obtener más información. Puede existir un conflicto entre una cultura de conocimientos profesionales y la resistencia frente a la urgencia que expresan los padres y los TAV sobre el desarrollo de un cerebro auditivo lo antes posible.

La cultura existente en torno a lo que significa tener sordera es sólida. Los intercambios típicos tienen lugar en torno a la importancia primaria de la lengua de signos y la afrenta comprensible que siente la comunidad de personas con sordera hacia lo que perciben como una negación de su identidad. Esto, a su vez, tiende a dominar el debate e influir en las actitudes de las familias, los profesionales y la sociedad en general. Existen sólidas percepciones en numerosos componentes de la sociedad y, a menudo, se necesita desafiar el statu quo o “la forma en que siempre se han hecho las cosas” para crear un espacio de crecimiento, cambio y nuevos caminos. Ofrecer opciones a la gente ha sido siempre una manera de expandir el mundo y subraya exactamente por qué es tan importante que los padres conozcan el enfoque de Escucha y Lenguaje Hablado, así como otras opciones que es posible que deseen considerar para sus hijos.

Ophélie ha aceptado la necesidad de cambio. Cada vez existen más familias que solicitan sus servicios, tras haber realizado una búsqueda acerca de la terapia auditivo-verbal y otras opciones en Internet. El boca a boca también es crucial, ya que existen grupos de familias que se informan y apoyan mutuamente a través de las redes sociales, además de abrir el debate con profesionales que ofrecen sus servicios. Ophélie comenta que, a su debido tiempo, le gustaría ser testigo de que la terapia auditivo-verbal se consolida en la cultura dominante y se ofrece como una opción en su país a todas las familias que lo deseen. En palabras de la propia Ophélie: «[Actualmente] cada vez hay más familias que pueden acceder a este servicio. Gracias a ellas, los profesionales están cambiando de opinión».

Ophélie, sus colegas y una red cada vez mayor de familias activas y bien informadas están propiciando el cambio en su país. Es probable que los niños que participan en el primer programa de terapia auditivo-verbal en Francia proporcionen pruebas convincentes de su viabilidad como una opción de intervención temprana para los niños con una discapacidad auditiva. El enfoque LSL puede contribuir a que se facilite a estos niños un acceso pleno a la educación y la vida comunitaria.

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