Hearing Loss and Your Child
So, you just found out that your child has hearing loss? Don’t panic! It’s going to be okay!
Hearing loss DOES NOT have to restrict all that life has to offer. Here are some suggestions to help you after discovering your child has a hearing impairment:
First and foremost, you are going to have to accept that your child has a hearing impairment. This may sound odd, but acceptance is a big part of having any kind of impairment. It’s not the end of the world. Keep reading and you’ll see!
2. Read Up
Secondly, educate yourself, as well as your child. Educate yourself on hearing loss and impairments. Find out all you can, talk to your pediatrician, read, and research. Reach out to other parents raising a hearing-impaired child, as well as adults who have lived through it. Use the internet as a resource. There are many blogs and articles about hearing loss and strategies for coping. This research can be very enlightening and help you to be proactive when it comes to the challenges you will face. Involve the entire family as well. It will help if everyone in the family unit understands your child’s condition and possible limitations.
Next, encouragement. Encourage your child in this new venture; they should feel relaxed and confident in their journey. Love and encouragement will go a long way. You can research activities to do with your child to help them learn and embrace their new way of life. There may be set backs and your child may show frustrations, but it is up to you as the parent to positively encourage them. Encourage them to speak up and make themselves heard on how they feel and what they think. They should feel heard and understood.
*TIP: Try to avoid phrases like “normal life.” Your child should never feel like they aren’t normal.
4. Don’t Treat Them Differently
It helps to raise them as if they do not have a hearing impairment, with the exception of a few changes in their day to day, of course. Be sure not to single them out due to their hearing loss. It is important to prepare them for the real world. They should have typical rules and restrictions that all children have. But you should also manage your expectations. Children with hearing impairments can take part in most of the same activities as their non-hearing-impaired counterparts. You should consider their physical and mental capabilities when making expectations on such activities, but to a certain extent all parents do this with their children.
5. Responsibility is Key
Engage your child to take responsibility for their hearing impairment. If they’re old enough, you should include them in researching hearing loss and related topics so that they know everything about the subject that you do. You can involve them in selecting their hearing devices and help them to understand how their hearing device works. Show them how to clean it, store it, and change or charge the batteries for their device. They should be very hands-on in everything involving their hearing; after all, they are the one who has to live with it for the rest of their lives. So, let’s prepare them for it!
6. Science to the Rescue!
In this day and age, there has never been more hope for children with hearing loss. Hearing aids are just one type of device that can help. Today’s hearing aids often come with Bluetooth connectivity, app compatibility, and rechargeable batteries. Children can choose from a wide variety of colors if they decide they want to flaunt their cool new accessory. They can also choose from a variety of discreet hearing aids, if they choose to go that route.
There are also cochlear implants, which are surgically implanted devices. They work by directly stimulating the auditory nerve in the inner ear with electrical stimulation. These implants are for the profoundly deaf or hard of hearing. They have an external device that can be very kid friendly. Cochlear implants are for those who cannot benefit from the use of a hearing aid.
There is speech therapy available if your child’s hearing loss has affected their speech. Once they have their hearing aid or implant, speech therapy can help them catch up if their speech has been delayed.
7. Celebrate your Child!
So to reiterate, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a slight change of plans. You are going to be okay and so is your child. Stay positive and embrace the challenge. Children need to see the adults in their life as stable so they can feel safe, so don’t forget some self-care every once in a while. Enjoy your family and take on hearing loss together!