Many parents get worried and fear that their children with hearing disabilities will have fewer opportunities in life. Understandably, the fears are justifiable since we all want the best for our children.
In such situations, parents usually ask if their kids will be able to make friends, get an education, a job, or a partner in life. But there’s good news — today’s hearing aids in Malaysia are so advanced that even kids with extreme hearing loss can benefit from them.
However, many infants, toddlers, and children who wear hearing aids may still experience difficulties in hearing and understanding words — especially when the background noise is too loud.
There may also be a difficulty in hearing when there is a distance between the speaker and the child, and even when the child is in a room with hard surfaces and echoes.
So, how can you raise a child with a hearing disability — understand better and facilitate communication?
1. Start Young
If your child has been diagnosed with a hearing disorder in an ENT clinic and has been fitted with hearing technology, ensure that they wear their hearing aids or cochlear implants as much as possible.
Kids are usually notorious for removing their hearing devices, but you must keep putting them back on and encourage them to wear their devices as much as possible every day. Doing this will ensure that they have optimal access to your voice and other stimulating sounds.
2. Empower Your Child
Despite the unfortunate situation, it is crucial to raise your child like you would a hearing child. Give him responsibilities within the family — on equal terms with other siblings. Also, give him the freedom to carry out those activities in your absence.
It is essential for a child with a hearing disability also to experience his fair share of early successes and failures. It helps to prepare the child for the real world since you won’t always be around with them.
The child needs to grow up to become a healthy, independent, self-reliant adult — despite their hearing impairment.
3. Inform Others
Make sure that your child has a good relationship with his teachers and caretakers, and that they understand the needs and expectations of your child.
This may mean setting up a communication technique, a signal that helps your child tell the teacher to know when they are struggling to hear in class.
Doing this will help the teacher to change his or her technique to help your child hear and understand better without interrupting the entire class.
4. Continue Advocacy and Awareness
Be in constant contact with your child’s teacher or the professional who specializes in working with students with hearing disabilities in the school.
Make sure that your child’s communication needs are supported. Check if the school district provides or funds devices like Roger or FM system — to promote communication accessibility in the classroom.
5. Provide a Calm Environment
If your child finds it difficult to focus on conversations, reduce the level of background noise when talking with them. It could be turning off the TV, music, or any other background sounds that may make the conversation difficult to comprehend.
6. Encourage Independence
Teach your child to become the first line of defence in protecting their hearing device. As they grow older and become independent, they should be able to know when their hearing aids are not working efficiently and to do basic troubleshooting. When they are mature, they can visit the hearing aid centre in Johor Bharu (for those living in Johor Bharu) for maintenance and adjustment.
Hearing loss makes it so that some sounds are more understandable than others. Everyone around the child must remember this. At this point, patience is vital.
Practice patience if the child doesn’t understand, and ensure that you repeat vital points or rephrase sentences using different words until the child can comprehend. For more details about hearing loss, feel free to get in touch with out staff.