Communication Considerations for Parents of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children
Deafness or hearing impairment affects not only a child who is deaf or has a hearing loss, but also the child's family, friends, and teachers. For hundreds of years, people have debated the best ways to develop communication skills and provide education for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
Here are a few points upon which scientific and health professionals, educators, and experienced parents commonly agree:
Why should my newborn's hearing be screened?
The earlier that deafness or hearing loss is identified, the better the chances a child will acquire language, whether spoken or signed. A hearing screening can be an important indicator of deafness or hearing loss in a child. For this reason, all infants should be screened while still in the hospital or within the first month of life. But children who do not pass their screening need to go for a follow-up examination. The follow-up examination includes precise audiological testing that confirms the extent and type of hearing loss. It also allows parents, health professionals, and teachers to determine the best intervention strategy for the child. The term intervention refers to the different steps that families can take to overcome communication barriers caused by a hearing loss. When intervention is introduced early, the child can take advantage of the unique window of opportunity during the first few years of life when a person acquires language, whether spoken or signed.
Each child is unique
Each child is unique. It is important to understand the full nature and extent of a child's hearing loss or deafness. It is also important to understand how each family member and caregiver will communicate with the child. Get to know the services that are provided in your community for children in preschool and elementary school.
Should I optimize any residual hearing?
Optimizing residual hearing may be advantageous. Children may benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants. This is a decision that you should discuss with your child's healthcare providers and other professionals who work with deaf children and language development.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
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