Growing up with hearing loss: challenges & resistance

I have a child with hearing loss who is in upper Elementary (or Middle School, Jr. High, High School). He still seems to have learning challenges. Sometimes he resists wearing his hearing aids. What can be done to know that his needs are being met?

Brochure: Special Considerations for Parents Raising a Teenager with Hearing Loss

Gather information on your child’s ability to listen and understand in the classroom: Starting School LIFE (Listening Inventory For Education) – This is an assessment that is typically administered by the hearing professional on the school staff. It is a self-report measure that is appropriate to use with secondary students. The child provides information on their school listening settings, rate different situations for their ability to hear and understand, and then identify different ways in which they respond when they do not hear clearly. Family members can request that this tool be used by school staff. Also to request is the Teacher LIFE-R  in which the classroom teacher (Kindergarten-Secondary) rates the student’s listening behaviors in school settings and his or her use of self-advocacy, communication repair and technology independence skills. Although not ideal, it is also possible for family members or a neutral third party (i.e., clinical audiologist) to administer the Student LIFE-R to their child if they feel as though they need this information to advocate for services or supports with the school district and the school staff have not agreed to administer this tool.

Teens (and tweens) supporting one another: Knowing who you are is all about the groups you feel you are a member of and how well you think you are accepted by the group. Children who are ‘one and onlies’ with hearing devices in their school or grade may feel as though they are very different from their peers, even though in most ways they are just the same! Being able to also consider themselves part of a group of other children with hearing loss and being able to talk about common issues can go a long way toward a more positive self-identity. There may be a social group through your child’s school district or even organized by the state. Ask your child’s teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing or educational audiologist if they are aware of an informal group of children with hearing loss that is available for your child to join. There are also blog sites for teens with hearing loss such as http://bf4life-hearing.weebly.com that supports kids who are deaf or hard of hearing meeting other kids who have a hearing loss. After about age 10, a child’s peers have a greater influence than their family members on how positively they view themselves. Consider the connections your child makes with other children with hearing loss prior to age 10 and the ongoing opportunities for conversations as they approach their teen years as ‘insurance’ for positive attitudes towards themselves and their hearing devices. It would help parents to keep in touch too! Your local or state Hands & Voices chapter will continue to be a valuable resource to you as your child grows, even into the challenging teen years!

Explore attitudes, discuss, strengthen self-esteem: When issues of feelings about hearing loss and challenges are discussed with a hearing professional, the student may gain understanding in how hearing loss is affecting him/her and provide insights on how the problems may be better managed. Family members can request that the following tools be used by school staff.  The Significant Other Assessment of Communication – Adolescent (SOAC-A) asks the child and his or her friends (other students) complete the questionnaire and compare answers. Although not ideal, it is also possible for family members or a neutral third party (i.e., clinical audiologist) to administer the Self Assessment of Communication – Adolescent (SAC-A) to their child if they feel as though they need this information to advocate for services or supports with the school district and the school staff have not agreed to administer this tool. This authors of this test, Judy Elkayam, AuD and Kris English, PhD, have granted their permission for use of the SOAC-A and SAC-A.

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