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Few educationally relevant common doubts

This topic provides responses to few Educationally Relevant Common Doubts regarding education of hearing impaired.

Parents in general are often confused about how to raise their children. Parenting is a big responsibility and for those who are keen to do a good job, doubts and queries are part of the game. Parents of a hearing impaired child are no exception. In fact, they have more doubts and worries but mind you they also can have more challenges and more number of happy moments.

The purpose of this interaction is to discuss some of the common doubts parents have been reported to have bumped into suddenly. We intend to answer all your questions or clarify all your doubts. But many a times life is quite complex. There are no straightforward or simple answers to many of our questions. Many a times the answers are so simple that we fail to recognize them. A few common doubts and responses to them are listed below.

I am concerned about my child's education. I want him to be successful educationally. Where do I begin?

Accept and acknowledge following facts. The meaning of the word success can be different for different individuals, can be different in different context. You define ‘success’ of your child within the framework of the strengths and weaknesses of your child. Don't have unattainable goals but more importantly don't underestimate you child.

Success can depend on several factors. Involvement of parents is one of the most important factors.

Tips for beginners: (For those parents who have recently come to know about the impairment of the child.)

Deal with your negative emotions like anger (Why me? Why my child?) helplessness (‘This is the end of happiness! Nothing can go right!’) or fear (What do I do now? What will happen to my child?).

You can do it. Most of the other parents have done it. Don't waste time in blaming anybody for anything. Help yourself pass the phase of negative feelings quickly and positively. Don't pamper your guilt or frustration and don't let it grow.

Pull yourself and face life which has most probably become more challenging and more meaningful. ACCEPT YOUR CHILD AS HE/SHE IS. It is absolutely important, only then your meaningful education that of your child can begin.

Get all the relevant testing done

Try to know most of the important clinical detail's about the nature, degree and type of hearing loss. Discuss it's adverse effects on the child's development and what you can do to prevent them. Ask queries and clear your doubts with the professionals with whom you are in contact. He/she can be a special teacher, an audiologist or a speech therapist

Talk to your child constantly

It will help him/her develop speaking skills. It will also help him/her psychologically and will keep him/her in touch with the world around. Communication is also important for the sense of security and belonging which are primary needs of any family.

Work at home

  • Don't leave education to the teachers or schools. You have a prime role to play in your child's education. Understand and acknowledge it. Various activities can help in the development across of your child:
  • Involve your child in routine household activities.
  • Read story books to the child Take up activities for independent reading/writing.
  • Play games especially like playing cards, ludo, scrabble, snakes and ladder etc which make the child think and communicate.Take studies regularly Help your child to make friends and socialize.
  • Monitor your child's progress. If you don't find it satisfactory try other options, discuss with professionals and increase your qualitative and quantitative involvement.

The Actual educational plan can vary from individual to individual. Your child's present age, nature/type of hearing loss, his/her previous educational experience etc. are various details we would like to have before we suggest anything. But, inspite of these details there are things you have to know:

  • For any human child education is important. A hearing impaired child is no exception. In fact for him, education on is not only important but it is ESSENTIAL. Don't let your hearing impaired child be untouched by education. He/she must go to school. There are various types of educational programmes available for a hearing impaired child. Click on EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES for more details.
  • Earlier the better: Education for a non impaired child may begin after the third birthday but for a hearing impaired child, education of the child and his parents may begin months before that. Here, the goal of education is not only the fullest development of potential but is also to protect the child from adverse effects of hearing loss especially in the areas of psychological and communication development.
  • Literacy forms the backbone of formal education. Educational achievements of your child heavily depend on his/her reading/writing skills. Put in special efforts to develop good reading /writing skills. Textbooks serve the purpose very well. But these are tuned to non-impaired children's educational needs. These focus knowledge assuming that the child knows language. With the hearing impaired child one must work hard not only for knowledge goals but also for language goals. Therefore use plenty of reading material apart from the textbooks. These can include newspapers, magazines, story books, menu cards, visiting cards, manuals of toys/games/household objects, leaflets distributed on roads, letters received by you etc. These are a few of the things you can do. Once you start many more ideas will come your way. Do you still have the question ‘Where to begin’? we have given you plenty of options. As far as the question ‘WHEN to begin?’ we have only one answer to give – NOW!

Can my child study?

Of course he/she can! if your child has additional impairment then he needs to undergo several other tests and you will have to set your goals differently. Otherwise our response to your question can be ‘why can't he/she study?’ There are several types of adverse effects of hearing loss. The primary and the worst among these are it's effects on development of speech and language. The problems of communication especially with speaking and listening (understanding ) are so obvious and visible that it gives the impression that the child is unable to do many things which he/she can actually do. Studying is one of these things. There are various educational programmes available for the hearing impaired children. (click on ‘Educational Programmes’ for more details). Appropriate option has to be selected by parents and professionals.

There can be various shades of this question which are:

  • Can my child go to school?
  • Can my child go to any school along with other non impaired children?
  • Can my child appear for SSC/HSC board examinations?
  • Can my child go for higher education?
  • Can my child go for vocational/professional education?
  • Can my child cope with regular school/college curriculum?
  • Can my child cope with regular school/college environment?

Fortunately the answer for all these questions is ‘YES’ but only if you as a parent, play a very positive role.

Will my child speak?

This is one of the most common questions that the professionals come across. It is quite natural that parents are concerned about speaking ability of the child. Generally, speaking is considered to be the ability which distinguishes human beings from the other animals. Speech not only helps us communicate our ideas but it also links us with the society. Moreover, the inability of the hearing impaired child to speak clearly may lead to teasing by other children. Parents are concerned about it and hence the question ‘will my child speak?’ Yes your child can most certainly speak but there are a few buts and ifs. This is so because the success of a hearing impaired child in general (which includes ability to speak) depends on several factors. If these factors are present only then higher achievements can be expected.

  • Early identification and intervention
  • Early and appropriate amplification (hearing aid) which is used continuously and with adequate training
  • Absence of other additional handicaps
  • Early and ongoing professional help
  • Adequate socio-economic status of the family
  • Well informed and motivated parents with adequate time and energy for home training
  • Ample exposure to speech and language at home and at school.

Deaf are not dumb! There is nothing wrong in the speech organs (like tongue teeth etc.) of the hearing impaired individual. But since he/she is unable to listen to what others are speaking, the child is unable to speak. With hearing aids and training hearing impaired children too can speak. How fast and how quick your child can speak, heavily depends on various factors given above but most importantly, it depends on you. As parents you can do wonders with your child. Several parents have done it.

We have said two things, speech is important for human beings and our hearing impaired children can attain it. But we also said that speech skills are attainable only in the presence of conducive conditions. What if due to some reasons your child has failed to attain it?

It's NOT the end of the world. You must have come across several hearing impaired individuals who do not have intelligible speech but are leading a fully functional, personal and social life. It's nice that you are concerned about speech but also focus on language. Also be concerned about your child's reading and writing skills.

What way education will help my child in his/her future?

Role of formal education in the modern world is second to none. Education facilitates the development of an individual – development that touches all the personal and social aspects of human life. This needs no further clarification since we all agree to it. Parents generally take education as a means of providing a vocation to their child. Do you think the role of education is only limited to providing a vacation? More subtly, education also gives confidence, mental strength and scientific temperament. It opens doors to the world of knowledge. An individual with hearing impairment is no exception to all this. He too needs to be touched by education. But education has much more to offer to a hearing impaired child than to any other non-impaired child. With non-impaired children most of the early development whether -personal, social, intellectual and language - is quite automatic and spontaneous. In case of hearing impaired children deprivation of language can have adverse effects on various aspects of development. Education works towards preventing these adverse effects or at least helps lessen their impact. Education for the hearing impaired has knowledge as well as language goals. This is necessary for all-round growth of the child. Moreover, there are chances that parents too get guidance i.e. from the special educators. With the help of such guidance, home training can lead to better results. To conclude, education will not only take good care of your child's future but will also empower you as a parent.

Do these children have separate textbooks, curriculum or examination boards?

No, absolutely not. It is a common misunderstanding among people that hearing impaired students use different textbooks. Hearing impaired children also have to read same History, Geography, Science or Mathematics. Hence there is NO NEED of different textbooks. However, education for the hearing impaired especially in a special school differs in several aspects like:

  • teaching methodology
  • teaching aids
  • mode of communication
  • balance between knowledge and language
  • structure of a classroom including sitting arrangement
  • teacher student ratio etc.

As a parent, what is my role in education of my child with hearing impairment?

An educated parents does not have to be told about general importance of his/her role in the upbrining of the child. We all know and fully accept it. But is the case different with a child with impairment. We believe your role is much more crucial if you have a child with hearing impairment. Please click on 'Role of Parents in Education of the Hearing Impaired' for more details. At this point we would just introduce you to the following diagram which emphasises the fact that a hearing impaired child can achieve greater heights only if parents, professionals and community play their role positively and interactively. As a parent you will have to initiate such collaboration with community on one hand and professionals on the other.

What exactly do I do to ensure Educational achievements of my child?

It is easy to say that parents should play their role positively but what does that exactly mean? Following are the specific tips for parents to enhance the quality of home training:

  • Get all the possible assessments done periodically. This may include hearing assessment
    • assessment of hearing aid
    • psychological assessment
    • assessment of development of speech
    • assessment of development of language
    • assessment of educational achievements etc
  • Know the results of all the assessment thoroughly well. Assessment reports are mere papers and they remain to be only papers until and unless the parent interpret them meaningfully. Parents may have initial hesitation to read technical reports, but there is nothing that you don’t understand as long as it is concerning your child. Talk to the professionals and request them for an explanation – rather demand an explanation, as it’s your right. you need to know them because only then home training can take better shape.
  • Try to gather as much information as you can. Have appropriate educational placement done. Click on ‘Educational programmes available’ for more details. Remember no home training, no tuition, no therapy can take the place of school placement.
  • Carry out effective home training programme. Home training programme can have two dimensions.
    • Creating conducive home environment. For this you don’t have to devote specific time. But your ongoing activities will have to be tuned in such a way that you take good care of the needs of your child. For example, being a hearing impaired child your child need to be talked to ten times more than any other child. Can you and your spouse give her/him this much time? If you separate talking time from your routine activities, then this is not possible. But as you do your routine tasks in the house involve your child in it. Let him/her see, touch, feel, smell things. Let him/her be part of your activities and TALK TO HIM/HER as you two are involved in the routine activities.
    • What are the appropriate household activities that can be effectively used for talking to a child?
      • Preparation for cooking
      • Actual cooking
      • Arranging dining tableCleaning dining table
      • Folding clothesChanging bed sheets
      • Keeping old news papers, magazines away
      • Arranging cupboards
      • Wiping furniture
      • Watering plants
      • Daily worship
      • Making marked list
      • Carrying out small purchases. etc. etc.
      • The list is never ending and we cannot think of a single activity which cannot be used for talking to the child.
  • Specific time devoted to home training. Talking to your child through the routine activities is important but not adequate. You will have to keep some time aside everyday to spend with your child. During this time you give individual attention to your child. Use this time for
    • taking reading activities
    • auditory training
    • taking studies
    • playing games including language games
    • making scrap book
    • reading newspaper, magazines etc.
  • Prioritize your time and activities. You are basically busy because of your duties and responsibilities in the home and outside. You may therefore find it difficult to spare time for your child. But it is essential whether you are a mother or a father that you spend at least an hour with your child. This is apart from the time you give to satisfy your child’s routine needs like feeding, bathing, etc. For this, we suggest that priorities of routine activities have to be straightened. What is important and essential can become compulsory part of routine activities. Spending specific and special time for your child HAS to be part of your daily routine – as essential as cooking or going for your job. If you understand this you WILL BE ABLE TO SPARE TIME.

What way is it educationally different to have a hearing impaired child?

It is very important for you parents to know about the efforts of hearing loss on the development of your child. Biologically hearing loss merely means inability to listen. But inability to listen is not as simple or straight forward as inability to see. Listening is essentially linked with speaking (we learn to speak what we keep hearing). The primary and the worst adverse effect of hearing loss therefore is considered to be on communication skills in general and on language in particular. Hearing impaired children, especially those who have profound hearing loss in both the ears since birth - find it difficult to acquire language as automatically, effortlessly and swiftly as any other non impaired child. Because the non impaired child has acquired language early in life, it can enter the school and can readily face formal education. It is this language which is not adequately developed in a hearing impaired child that creates multiple problems in its life. It is the lack of language skills that turns hearing loss into hearing handicap.

Inadequate language has its adverse effect on all aspects of human development. This may include intellectual, educational, social, personal, emotional and vocational development. In India where network of services is poor and awareness among society is less, hearing impairment may also affect family life, interpersonal relationships, recreational avenues etc. From educational point of view, all this is very important since all these areas of human functioning are closely linked with education. As a parent you must try to prevent hearing loss turning into hearing handicap. Always remember.

  • Hearing loss affects language development adversely.
  • Inadequate language skills turn hearing loss into hearing handicap by adversely affecting various aspects of human functioning.
  • Parents professional and community together can help lessen the impact of hearing loss. It is quite difficult but NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
  • Ensuring age appropriate language development is the key to all problems.

Source: Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped

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