By: Michelle Porter Tiernan
As a parent of a child with hearing loss, you may not know where to turn. It’s so important to get appropriate treatment and services that your child needs. Here are five ways you can help your child.
Get Early Treatment
Early treatment includes hearing aids or other devices, like cochlear implants, which are electronic devices that go inside the inner ear to help the brain process sounds.
“Early treatment is key for children with hearing loss at any age,” said Diana Wilson, AuD, CCC-A, pediatric audiologist, Mission Children’s Hospital. “Early treatment means better outcomes for speech and language development. It also reduces other effects that even mild or one-sided hearing loss can have on a child academically and socially.”
Use Early Intervention
An early intervention team includes an audiologist, speech and language therapist, primary care physician and other professionals who work with you—the parent—to develop an individualized service plan for your child.“Early intervention services are so important because we need to give children optimal access to language, whether through hearing devices or preferential seating in the classroom or a form of manual communication,” said Wilson.
“Early intervention services are so important because we need to give children optimal access to language, whether through hearing devices or preferential seating in the classroom or a form of manual communication,” said Wilson.
As a parent, emotional support can make a big difference in coping with the challenges of your child’s hearing loss.
“Some may feel a sense of loss for what they had expected for their child or may feel overwhelmed. Getting support can make such a difference in understanding those feelings and understanding what a hearing loss means for their child’s future,” said Wilson.
Two local resources available for parents and families are Mission Children’s Family Support Network™ of Western North Carolina and BEGINNINGS, a North Carolina-based, non-profit organization for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Explore Sounds Together
“One of the most natural ways to explore sounds with your child is to embellish the sounds that occur in natural, everyday life,” said Wilson.
- During a child’s daily routine, encourage detection of sounds by asking, “What’s that sound?” or in a soft voice, “Listen …”
- Talk about the sound. Was it loud or quiet? Did it have a high or low pitch? Did it last a short time or a long time?
- Compare sounds, such as the songs of different birds or different types of music.
Be an Advocate for Your Child
“I encourage families of children with hearing loss to ask as many questions as they want, even if they think of something after the appointment,” said Wilson.
When parents are involved in this way, it helps children with hearing loss learn to be involved in their own care and be advocates for themselves.
For more information about the services provided by Mission Children’s Hospital, visit missionchildrens.org.