How to support a child living with (a) hearing loss
Your child has been diagnosed with a hearing loss. There are a myriad of thoughts, anxieties and questions buzzing around your head. Growing up with a hearing loss does not mean a life of limitations. Why not? Tools, technology and community support are available at your fingertips to help you and everyone in your family thrive.
Learn more about what to expect, tips on how to empower your child and get support in this blog.
‘What are those things on your ears?’
An anticipated question, yet not always easy to answer which you, your child and other family members may have to answer over and over. This question will open a dialogue about hearing loss. So it’s important for both you and your child to have some phrases ready to share.
Armed with information about why hearing is important for children, you can empower yourself and others to communicate with your child to thrive in a world where hearing loss should be no limitation.
What about the future?
Hold on to dreams and ambitions for your child
Like every parent, you have dreams and ambitions for your child. Hold onto your dreams for your child in order to support their development in the best way possible.
Hearing loss does not have to restrict your child’s enjoyment of life and prevent him or her from aiming high. On the contrary. Sometimes a handicap can be the making of a person and pave the way for a successful path less trodden.
Encourage, reassure, and accept your child. Praise them for the small things. Reassure them when they feel left out of the hearing world or challenged by their hearing loss. Most of all accept them as they are, and this will in turn help them to accept their hearing loss.
Fitting in yet sticking out
Children want to be “normal” and be an accepted member of a social group. And sometimes this means they may adapt by taking off their hearing aids and ‘faking’ understanding. As parents you cannot protect your children from all hurtful situations. But you can acknowledge their feelings, reassure them that they are doing well and convince them that wearing their hearing aids is important - all the time. If they understand why it’s important to wear hearing aids, they are more likely to do so. And by involving them in how hearing aids work, you encourage them to take responsibility to take care of them.
Read about the importance of sound.
Empower to embrace
Depending on the age of your child, you can involve them in different ways which will empower them. These three tips will also help teach them to take responsibility for their hearing loss.
- Involve them in hearing aid care. This can include putting them on and taking them off, putting them safely away at night, changing the batteries and cleaning them.
- Allow them to choose the colour of their hearing aids. Your child will need to visit hearing centres throughout their life. Allowing them to have a say along the way, supports empowerment.
- Teach them self-advocacy skills appropriate to their age. Help your child to advocate for their listening needs and talk about how they can repair communication breakdown.
Hearing loss at school
A child’s ability to concentrate at school is challenged by information they get from the teacher as well as by background noise and acoustics in the classroom. For a child with hearing loss, the challenge is even greater. Fear not, FM technology is designed to help children with hearing loss overcome the effects of distance and noise, to ensure they catch as much of the teacher’s voice as possible.
How does the FM system work?
The teacher wears a microphone which captures their voice, and the speech signal is sent directly to the child’s ear. It also helps with understanding classmates.
Socialising and events
Social activities, such as family dinners, birthday parties and large gatherings, can often be very challenging and tiring for a child with hearing loss. Hearing aids with BrainHearingTM technology can help your child to distinguish speech from background noise, focus on what is being said, and avoid the annoying feedback during hugs.
Technology connects to the big wide world
The younger generation today are more digital savvy. And children use digital devices for many aspects of life including video chat, music, computer games and more. Navigating technology to connect them to the wider world should be easier.
Explore Oticon Opn PlayTM hearing aids for children
ConnectClip is a versatile microphone accessory which enables hands-free calls and stereo audio streaming. It’s also a remote microphone. This single wireless device has the potential to help your child get on the same wavelength as their peers – in the playground, in the back of the car and in the classroom. Ask your hearing care professional for more information.
Want more information about ConnectClip?
Go to the ConnectClip support centre.
Who else can help?
Engage the family
Having a child with hearing loss draws a great deal of attention to the child, parents as well as the rest of the family. Even though your child wears hearing aids, they will still be hearing impaired. A lot of patience is required to raise a child with hearing loss. That’s why it’s important to work as a team at home and engage the extended family too. Avoid treating the children differently. Give them equal share of the chores and encourage them to play together.
Grandparents can offer extra support by being positive and loving and not treating the child differently to other grandchildren. And being an ally if they also have a hearing loss, although they should avoid comparison.
Siblings are sometimes overlooked but can be greatly affected by a brother or sister with hearing loss. It’s important to involve them and keep them educated about hearing loss and hearing aids too. Help them to answer other children’s questions such as “Why does your brother talk so funny?” and “What are those things on your sister’s ears?”
Support in the wider community
You are not alone. There are many other parents on a similar journey. Sharing experiences with “experienced” parents can help, inspire and motivate you. Or they can simply listen to your fears and worries about your child’s future. It’s beneficial for your child to meet other children with hearing loss too.
Search the internet for online discussion forums or local parent communities. You may also find communities on Facebook as well as via your hearing care professional.
Oticon’s mission is to create a better future for every child with hearing loss.