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