The Surgeon Who Became An Activist For Baby Talk

(NPR) In Dana Suskind’s new book, Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain, she explains children benefit from repeated exposure to spoken sophisticated words. Acknowledging the ground-breaking work of Hart and Risley (1995), kids with strong literacy skills generally lived in households where they heard lots of words. Millions and millions of words. Her passion for literacy came from an unlikely place: the operating room.

As a surgeon, Suskind performed cochlear implants at the University of Chicago. The implant is a remarkable marriage of medicine and technology that can help even profoundly deaf children hear. But Suskind noticed that her young patients went on to develop language skills at wildly different rates. Some reached or surpassed grade-level. Some didn’t. Why?

The kids who received cochlear implants but struggled to develop language often did so because their parents didn’t talk to them as much as their growing brains required. Suskind writes, “without that language environment, the ability to hear is a wasted gift.” And so the surgeon became an activist. For talk. Read Article

Publication:      NPR
Author:             Cory Turner
Publish Date:   9.14.2015