Hearing loss can be very difficult for children, but it doesn’t have to hold them back from communicating or learning. With the right treatment and some support from you, your child can learn all the skills and reach the same milestones as any other child. Here’s how you can help.
Start Straight Away
Early treatment is very important for a child experiencing hearing loss. Babies’ brains develop very rapidly, so you need to stimulate the sound pathways in the brain as soon as you can. Children who are exposed to a range of sounds at an earlier age are more likely to develop along the same route as other children their age.
Most children are given hearing aids or other hearing devices like cochlear implants. These are electronic devices that go inside the inner ear to help the brain to process sounds.
It is never too early to start these treatments. Most babies have their hearing tested soon after birth. This means that if there is a problem, they can be fitted for hearing aids at only a few weeks old. If you’re worried, ask your child’s doctor to help you find an audiologist who specializes in children’s hearing. They can help you to choose the best treatment and make sense of hearing aid programming.
Even children with profound hearing loss can catch up to their peers by the time they turn five or six if they are given cochlear implants before the age of one or two.
Use Early Intervention Services
A lot of parents of children with hearing loss don’t have hearing loss themselves. This means they have a lot to learn about how to live with and treat the condition. An early intervention program will help you to coordinate all the different services that your child might need. Babies with hearing loss should get in a program as soon as possible.
You should be able to find a program through the hospital or your child’s school. Through this program, you will work with hearing specialists, including audiologists and speech-language pathologists to come up a plan for your child. Early intervention also offers support for your family and will teach you different methods to help your child stay on track.
Speak To School
Make sure your child’s teacher knows how to help. Ask them to talk while they’re facing away from your child, such as when writing on board. Your child will be able to understand more if they can see the teacher’s face while they’re talking.
Arrange for teachers to provide handouts of any notes so that your child can concentrate on listening, not on trying to write at the same time. You could ask for them to be assigned a buddy who can take good notes and who listens wells; your child can then ask them for any notes or instructions they may have missed.
Make sure your child feels comfortable letting their teacher know if they are having trouble hearing them. A secret signal could be ideal if they’d rather not draw attention to their difficulty.