Living with a hearing-​impaired child

August 11, 2016 by Karine Page
vivre_enfant_malentendant
Family is very important to a child’s development. When living with a hearing-impaired child, some adjustments might be necessary. Before the very first school year, parents have to make sure that everything is on track for their child to have the best experience possible.

Hearing screening: An important step

One of the first steps to properly preparing for the first school year is a hearing test by an audiologist. This step is often neglected. If hearing loss or deafness is detected, parents can adapt their actions to ensure their child becomes autonomous in all areas of life. Once a hearing loss is detected, steps can be taken to ensure successful language, cognitive, and social development.

Learning to communicate is closely tied to hearing ability. If children do not hear what people say, they will have a hard time reproducing the sound of words. This sensory deprivation might also affect their learning in the classroom and their contacts with others. Hearing-impaired children may isolate themselves from other children for fear of being misunderstood or ridiculed.

Adapted solutions

Meeting with other hearing health professionals—such as a speech-language pathologist, an ENT specialist, or an audioprosthetist—is often necessary. They can suggest solutions adapted to the child’s hearing loss.

Hearing aids are also recommended to improve hearing in everyday situations. A transmitter-receiver system (FM) can be combined with hearing aids. The teacher or parent wears the transmitter, which sends the sound directly to the child’s hearing aids.

Also, when an audiologist’s evaluation shows hearing loss that might negatively impact a child’s development, the RAMQ covers hearing aid fees.

Communication at home

Parental support is as important as assistance listening devices in making sure all necessary conditions for rehabilitation are met. Parents play an essential role in preventing hearing loss from interfering with a child’s development, both through their involvement and initiative at medical appointments and their attitude at home.

To facilitate discussion, adults can support what they are saying with gestures or signs (using sign language or pointing), teach their children to maintain eye contact during conversations, and ask them to reword to confirm they understood well. It is also important to build on children’s strengths and interests, and to reward their efforts.

At home, it’s a good idea to involve siblings and other relatives. They can be helpful in the child’s rehabilitation process. They are also an additional resource and will be able to inform people about hearing loss in order to dispel taboos and ignorance on the subject.

For more information about your child’s hearing, consult a hearing health professional.

References:
DUCHESNE, Louise and GAUCHER, Charles, “Votre enfant a une surdité ? Vous n’êtes pas seuls! Guide pratique à l’usage des parents.” Fondation des Sourds du Québec and Association du Québec pour enfants avec problèmes auditifs (AQEPA), 2015. Online. http://www.aqepa.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Guide-pratique-sur-la-surdit%C3%A9-des-enfants-pour-les-parents.pdf. Consulted April 22, 2016.
IRDPQ, “La surdité à l’école ; comprendre, s’unir et accomplir.” May 2015. Online. http://www.irdpq.qc.ca/expertise-et-formation/publications/revue-differences/mai-2015/la-surdite-lecole-comprendre-sunir. Consulted April 22, 2016.
S. WAYNER, Donna, “Mon enfant est malentendant, Guide pour les parents.” Phonak, 2016. Online. http://www.phonak.com/content/dam/phonak/b2b/Pediatrics/fr/Brochure_BtC_Mon_enfant_est_malentendant_140x210_F_028-0289-04.pdf. Consulted April 22, 2016.