Listen Up! - The Basics
Can My Child Hear? It is never too early to have your baby's hearing tested. Here is a Speech and Hearing Checklist from the AG Bell Association for the Deaf, and Determining If Your Child Has Hearing Loss from the American Academy of Otolaryngology.
Why Do I Feel This Way? If your child has just been diagnosed as having a hearing loss, I would like you to read this little story called "Welcome to Holland". I first heard this story shortly after my son was diagnosed with a congenital bilateral moderate-profound sensorineural hearing loss (in real terms: Born with a hearing loss in both ears that's so bad, he can't hear anything without his hearing aids). I recently had the opportunity to correspond with Ms. Kingsley who gave us permission to share it with you. While her child is not deaf, she used to write scripts for the Little Theatre of the Deaf for SESAME STREET back in 1970. You may also want to read:
What Are My Options? You need to learn about ALL of the communication options available, and pick one that's right for your family and child. My favorite link for this would be The Deaf Education Option Web, but it has been offline for some time. We're trying to track this down so that we can get this info back online for you. I did manage to find a paper that heavily referenced ideas from The Deaf Education Option Web, Degrees of Deafness: From Discovery to Education.
Now What? Now that you've read about your options, you've either got a pretty good idea of which option you would like to pursue, or you're more confused than ever. In either event, Diane has some good words of advice:
Good advice Diane! I can't stress enough that you should go out and visit at least those programs you are considering. Just because a program claims to follow a specific modality, doesn't mean they actually do, or that it's a quality program. And once you've made your choice, it isn't written in stone that you have to stick with that choice if you see it's not working, or if you feel your child needs something else. You can always add to, or take away from whatever you're doing. Your child will let you know what is and isn't working, if you pay attention.
To receive a copy of a free consumer booklet on all aspects of hearing care call 1-888-833-EARS(3277) toll-free. The booklet covers hearing instruments (how do you know if you need them, what you should expect from hearing instruments, types of technology, styles) assistive listening devices, how audiologists help children with hearing loss, ear infections, central auditory processing problems, hearing loss prevention, noise and hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, audiologic rehabilitation, and cochlear implants.
Learn about Hearing Aids. Here are some resources for you:
Learn about hearing. These places provide some good, basic information:
The greatest source of inspiration for me has been something that I now have the privilege to share with you. I call it Life's Lessons. This was Phyllis Feibelman's Banquet Address for an Auditory-Verbal International conference in 1991. Phyllis is the editor of Our Kids Magazine, a magazine sent to members of AG Bell (go here for a free 6 month trial membership for parents of a child with a hearing loss). She has allowed me to place it on this web site so that others may benefit.
A Prophetic Start For Diane - A U.P. newspaper article submitted by a parent (the article is about her as a hearing-impaired child).
Support Groups for Parents - These are online groups that support ALL communication options.
Every child needs Role Models. Here are some we hope will inspire your child.
Curious to know what people who are hard of hearing have to go through with their every day communication? Here's a humorous passage that may give you just a bit of insight. This passage is not really about a hard of hearing person trying to communicate, but it does give the reader an idea of the frustrations faced by breakdowns in communication.
AG Bell - National - a nonprofit organization promoting the rights for hearing-impaired children to learn and use all aspects of verbal communications. Ask them about their free six month trial membership for parents of a child with a hearing loss.
American Society for Deaf Children offers a free first year program for families of newly-identified deaf and hard of hearing children. If you are the parent of a newly identified deaf or hard of hearing child and wish to receive information about enrolling in First Year Free, please call ASDC at 800/942-ASDC
Auditory-Options Project - This is a state-wide project in Ohio that provides free auditory-verbal/auditory-based approaches to kids 0-3 years.
Tips for Parents
If you find someone with a hearing impaired child who is doing things you want your child to be able to do, ask them how they did it. Often it is just some little thing they tried that worked and they'll be happy to share it with you. If you've found something that worked and you'd like to pass it along, let me know and I'll post it here.
Get all the knowledge you can during your child's time with the therapist because in the long run, it's you teaching your child to do these things. You're the one he spends the time with (you think an hour or so a week with the therapist is all it takes?) The only way you're going to be able to do it is if you learn how. Read all you can on the subject and ask questions! Developing your child's hearing and speech to its fullest potential takes teamwork and you're the one in charge of the team (Many would say that the therapist is the one in charge of the team, but what if you move out of the area? Is your therapist going to follow you? If you want continuity of care for your child, the team leader is you!) If your therapist doesn't welcome you into the room during therapy or is reluctant to answer your questions, maybe it's time to look for another therapist.
Teaching social skills is often difficult. What has worked the best for me is "Goofus & Gallant" from HIGHLIGHTS magazine for children. I copied every one I could get my hands on (I borrowed from teachers, found stacks at libraries, and bought as many at yard sales as I could). Cut these out and glue onto card stock (see below for more on this kind of paper). For teaching the concept I've found that 2 per card works best. Make sure that the card for good behavior and bad behavior are in the same relative position for each card (ie. good always on top). After the concept has been learned, separate into 2 cards and use to play matching games, or go fish.
Whenever I print something to use as a therapy aid, I print it onto card stock (also known as cover stock or Vellum Bristol). This makes it more durable and helps it to last through a number of sessions. When my child has mastered whatever concept the printout was for, it's still in nice enough condition to pass along to someone else. You can get this paper at your local office supply store, it's not expensive, and it comes in a lot of colors.