Hearing loss may cause a number of symptoms in children. Young children with hearing loss may be unresponsive to their parents’ voices and exhibit difficulties in learning to speak. Older children may seem to be inattentive, and their hearing loss might be mistaken for a behavioral disorder.
The manner in which parents and families respond to a child’s hearing loss has a profound impact on the child’s well being. Here’s what families need to know:
Be Honest With Your Child About Hearing Loss
As soon as children are old enough to understand, parents should talk to them about hearing loss. Children may not realize that their peers hear differently than they do – that the other kids in the classroom always understand what the teacher says.
It’s important for parents to help their children understand that they are not inferior or abnormal. Kids with hearing loss may feel ostracized or disconnected from their peers, and instilling them with confidence early on may help children weather the emotional challenges that come with hearing loss.
Treat Them With Respect
Hearing instrument manufacturer Oticon has this important advice for parents: In a household with more than one child, the oldest child – even if that child has hearing loss – should be allowed to fulfill the traditional role of the big brother/big sister. Treating a younger sibling as the more responsible one based only on their ability to hear can be psychologically damaging for the older hearing-impaired sibling.
Involve the Whole Family
Grandparents, siblings, and other family members need to know how to communicate with a child who has hearing loss. Parents can explain some fundamentals (such as facing the child when speaking), as well as provide relatives with links to helpful websites where they can learn more about hearing loss.
Be Actively Involved in Their Education
“Mainstreaming” is a term that means children with hearing loss are integrated into “regular” classrooms, rather than attending a school specifically for children with hearing impairment. Every child is different – some seem to thrive in mainstream schools, while others feel more comfortable learning alongside other children with hearing loss.
Regardless of the schooling option parents choose for their child, they should communicate regularly with teachers to make sure their child is progressing as expected. In a mainstream school, teachers may lack experience working with hearing-impaired children, so parents may need to explain how their children’s hearing loss limits their ability to hear instructions or participate in conversations.
See an Audiologist
Early intervention can help children with hearing loss lead happy and fulfilling lives. If you suspect your child may have hearing loss, please contact us today to schedule a hearing exam.