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Dana Suskind, CI Surgeon and language advocate

Posted Feb 10 2013 12:00am

Loving this recent article in the Chicago Tribune about Dana Suskind, a Chicago area CI Surgeon and language advocate.  Her research program, outlined below, particularly resonated with me.  

Teaching parents about the importance of language is a key component that must drive early intervention engagement.  Tools like LENA help bring awareness to how much and how you are talking and it gives parents a 30,000 word benchmark for real direction.  And this could be applied to any family, not only to those with a child with hearing loss.  

Suskind worked with her University of Chicago colleagues to launch 30 Million Words, a program that sends research assistants to the homes of at-risk children for 13 weeks and educates their parents about the importance of engaging their children in an ongoing dialogue — and, equally important, offers them the tools to do so.

Researchers work with the parents to develop weekly word goals, with an ongoing emphasis on "the three Ts: Tune in, talk more, take turns," Suskind says.

"Babies aren't born smart," she says. "They're made smart. And how are they made smart? Your words."

"All parents should be allowed to know the power they have. If we can change how parents view their language and the power they have to impact their kids' trajectories, it will be amazing."


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