Hearing loss, hearing impairment or deafness is the inability to hear things either totally or partially. It is the result of sound signals not reaching the brain. Hearing loss is the diminished ability to hear sounds, while deafness is the inability to understand speech even when the sound is amplified.
Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing is an essential tool that helps with communication. Hearing ability is the most important ability for the development of speech and language skills in children. A child with hearing loss experiences a great deal of challenge. Parents often have a lot of concerns regarding the child’s future and development. They often face difficulties while raising the child. Communicating with the child and understanding the child’s needs is also a problem at times. However, these difficulties can be overruled and surpassed.
How to Raise a Child with Hearing Loss?
Raising a child with hearing loss could be a challenging task. However, with certain important steps being maintained, one can overcome this challenge.
Accepting the Fact:
The parents of children with hearing loss should accept the fact that simple things such as talking, listening and communicating will be a challenge for them. They cannot follow the same path of development any other child without the problem. The children being unaware of their problem have no knowledge of what they are lacking; hence, the parents should analyze and set goals and help them to reach it.
Decision Making for the Child:
The parents are given with the tedious task of making the decisions that will be the building blocks of the child’s future and development. Many wrong decisions are made in the process and these mistakes should be viewed as lessons. The parents should motivate the children to dream about their future. The hearing problem should not restrict the children to enjoy life. Parents must also try to make them as independent as possible. As they grow, their decisions and point of views should also be considered.
Parental and Family Support for Raising a Child with Hearing Loss:
The children should be raised with support, encouragement and lots of love. They should be appreciated for small things which will increase their confidence. They should never feel less competent compared to other children without hearing loss. These small encouragements can help him develop his full potential despite the problem of hearing loss. There are many stages in life and this opens way to many challenges.
Role of the Family in Raising a Child with Hearing Loss:
The family plays an important role in bringing up a child. The children with hearing loss should have an engaging family. They should not feel different. They should be treated like normal kids and should be given extra love and care. Raising a child with hearing loss requires a lot of patience from all the members of the family.
Learning and Teaching Methods for Children with Hearing Loss:
The parents are the first and foremost teachers for the children. Teaching a child with hearing loss requires a lot of patience. It is a hard work because children normally learn by sounding out words and reading aloud; while for children with hearing loss this method is not possible. The following things must be kept in mind while teaching a child with hearing loss:-
- The children should have an actively communicating family and they should constantly learn through communication. Problems in communication can limit a child’s development.
- Parents and teachers should be made aware of the methods and techniques to teach the children with hearing impairment.
- The children should be taught using pictures that help them connect with real life situations.
Being a Mentor for Raising a Child with Hearing Loss:
The parents should act as a mentor and not as an authority figure. They should be a guide and only give advice to the children when needed. Parents should not deprive the children of their independence. The children should be allowed to make decisions. Parents should also empower the children to take care of their hearing aids by themselves.
Using and Managing Hearing Aids:
The hearing aids play a vital role and help in the development of the skills of a child with hearing loss. The children must be taught how to use the hearing aids by themselves. They should feel comfortable with the hearing aids.
Digital Gadgets for Children with Hearing Loss:
As the children, grow they become more independent and socially active. There a many digital gadgets that help children with hearing loss. In colleges and universities, they should be given FM system that is connected to their hearing aids, so that they can hear the lectures and understand it. There are a lot of biomedical gadgets available for children with hearing loss. These gadgets should be selected according to the needs of each child.
Encouraging Communication in Children with Hearing Loss:
The children with hearing loss should always be with a person who is more vocal. There should always be communication around them. When speaking to a child with hearing loss, the face of the speaker must be in view so that the child can develop the ability to read the lips. They should be involved in constant and clear communication. Tips for communication include:-
- Facial expressions and gestures should be used
- Children should be involved in conversations
- The stories should be acted out
- The children should be given help to express their feelings
- Words and sentences should be repeated over and over again, if needed
Teaching Reading and Writing to Children with Hearing Loss:
The ability to read and write can ease the communication for children with hearing loss. They should be taught the alphabets, words and their meanings. They should be able to make simple sentences. Writing helps them to clearly express their feeling to people who don’t understand them. Reading helps them to understand what others say. It is also useful for reading the captions while watching a video, so that they can understand the content of it.
Boosting Self- esteem of Children with Hearing Loss:
Children with hearing impairment should have high self-esteem. They should feel confident and they should not feel any less than others. Children should be confident and learn to love themselves as they are. The parents should find ways to build up their self-esteem.
What are the Requirements of Different Stages of Life While Growing with Hearing Loss?
The ability to hear is very important for children. There are many stages of growth and the parents and the children should be able to meet the requirements for each stage. The stages are:-
- Infancy Stage: The development of speech of a child with hearing loss depends on the correct care given from the time of birth. The child with hearing loss should be given a hearing aid, because constant hearing of sounds will expose them to speech. Singing, chatting and reading story books to them should be done in this stage.
- Kindergarten Years of a Child with Hearing Loss: In this stage, the development of social skills of the child with a hearing loss is a challenge. Empower them with their hearing aid and give them responsibilities suitable for their age. In this stage, the children start making friends; hence constant support should be given to ensure that children with hearing loss don’t feel any less than normal kids.
- School Years of a Child with Hearing Loss: The stage of schooling is the beginning of adventures. It is a constant battle for the kids with hearing loss to understand and hear what is being said in the classroom.
- Teenage Years of Children with Hearing Loss: This is one of the most crucial stages and the hearing aid should be worn continuously. In this stage, children become fully aware of the society and want to have an important place among their friends. They become independent and socially active. A constant parental support and encouragement is required during this stage.
Important Tips of Raising a Child with Hearing Loss
Here are some tips to raise a child with hearing loss:-
- The children with hearing loss should not be shy; they must be encouraged to go out and be active.
- The activities they do every day should develop assurance and trust in them.
- They should be taught to use their eyes as their ears, so that they can be attentive to any communication happening around and be a part of that.
- Instead of verbal instructions, they should be taught by doing activities.
- They should be made capable enough to do their own works and take care of themselves.
Children with hearing loss need constant help, support and encouragement from parents and other close ones. They should not be isolated. They should get abundant love and special care. They should not feel less than other kids of their age. For this, early diagnosis and treatment is necessary so that the child can develop the same skills as other kids. They should not be neglected and their hearing skills should be observed constantly and medical help should be obtained whenever needed.
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