Hearing loss may make your child's journey
of education and eventual employment bumpier than most, but it doesn't
mean your child cannot reach the same goals as a child with normal
hearing. Below, are some of the lessons I'm teaching my hearing impaired
preschooler. These are the same lessons my parents taught me, for I was
also a hearing impaired child.
1. Teach your child to educate. Give your child the words to
explain her disability in age appropriate language. From the time I could
talk, I told other children that I needed hearing aids to hear better just
like people needed glasses to see better. Hearing aids no longer seemed so
foreign and children found it easier to accept me as I was.
2. Teach your child to advocate. Your child should understand that
it is her responsibility to ensure that her needs are met. Teach her how
to ask a teacher for assistance. She should learn to tell the teacher as
well as her peers that it is necessary to get her attention first and to
face her when speaking. As your child grows up, you won't always be there.
Help her establish early independence so that when she needs to speak for
herself she will have the experience and confidence to do so.
3. Teach your child to focus. Children and adults alike pick up
conversational clues from visual cues such as facial expressions and body
gestures. Teach your child to face the speaker and be attentive. Focusing
is an important and necessary skill for the hard of hearing child and one
that will reap great rewards.
4. Teach your child the power of humor. Humor is a wonderful tool
for deaf and hard of hearing children. Growing up, I experienced many
embarrassing and difficult situations because of my disability. But I
usually managed to find the humor in them. By laughing at myself I was
able to turn uncomfortable situations around, putting others at ease and
earning respect from my peers.
5. Teach your child that no one is perfect. While many people don't
have physical disabilities or problems that you can see, their lives are
far from perfect. Realizing this, I've never felt sorry for myself and
I've always been open about my disability. It may not be easy, but your
child has everything to gain by telling people that she's deaf or hard of
hearing when they first meet. People are much more understanding and
patient when they know you have trouble hearing. By exhibiting this kind
of self-confidence, it also sets the tone for how people will view and
react to your child.
While being a hearing impaired child is not always easy, it is important
for parents to teach their child skills and coping strategies and instill
self-confidence at a young age. By doing so, the roads of education,
employment and relationships will be a lot smoother.
J.D. is married and has three children. She, her husband and
daughter are all hearing impaired. Her sons have normal hearing. A
law school graduate, Paula is the publisher of
http://www.HearingExchange.com, an online community for people
with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard of hearing children
and professionals. She is also a writer and speaker on hearing
loss and related issues. To contact her, send an email to
© 2002-2007 Paula Rosenthal and Taylor Rose,
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