By Nadine Dehgan
You just learned your child has a hearing loss. It is common (and normal!) to feel overwhelmed, scared, and have many, many questions. Hearing loss is a loss. It’s not uncommon to grieve after receiving a diagnosis. Take some time to come to terms with the news, and know that there are professionals ready to help and there are many resources at your disposal. There are also countless families who have gone through this same experience and have found success.
Here are some helpful tips Hearing Health Foundation cultivated from parents just like you:
Accept your child and cherish them for who they are as a person. This will encourage your child to accept themselves and their hearing loss, providing them with the confidence and assurance that they will be accepted by their peers and community, despite their hearing loss.
Help your child develop a fun, but informative, answer to educate their friends and others about their hearing loss and assistive devices, should they ask when you’re not around. This will help them develop self-advocacy skills they will need later in life.
Discussing your child’s hearing loss with their siblings may be something you dread. Simple is key. Let them ask questions and answer them as honestly, and positively as possible.
If your child’s chosen method of communication is sign language, make lessons a family activity, if the rest of the family communicates orally. It’s important that your child with a hearing loss feels and is included in all conversations, especially those taking place in the household.
Ask your child’s audiologist for recommendations for a speech pathologist, education consultants, and materials to set up your child for success. (*Laura, HHF’s communications and programs manager, mother used and was very thankful for the free resources from the John Tracy Clinic).
If your child is school-aged, set up a meeting with the school district’s Department of Special Education Services and start the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process. Cultivate and maintain the relationships made with Special Services—your child’s academic success depends on it.
Know the laws related to disabilities and special education, so you’re properly equipped to be your child’s best advocate.
Have regular check-ins with your child’s teachers to identify any gaps and ensure they are developing appropriately for their age, both socially and academically.
Have a folder/binder and notebook where you house all the paperwork of test and reports, dates of appointments and procedures. This would be a good place to keep any and all hearing aid, BAHA or cochlear implant warranty information.
Hearing loss accidents happen and sometimes you just have to laugh them off: When Laura was in kindergarten, she used to take a bath after dinner, and her mother would scream down the hall, “Take out your hearing aids!” One day, she forgot to remind Laura, and into the bath those hearing aids went!
Take issues that arise from bullying and other social incidences and turn them into a life lesson about diversity and that being unique is not a bad thing, but something to embrace.
If you’d like to connect to others going through similar situations, or with those who have dealt with these circumstances before, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage you to check out our Pediatrics page for more information and tips.