I research and read a lot about hearing loss, and frequently see lists stating what the “common effects of hearing loss” are for children… or what to expect if your child has hearing loss.. or common symptoms or ways to detect if a child has hearing loss. I’ve read about studies proving how high percentages of kids who have hearing loss will often face many difficulties with this, that and the other thing. It’s not something that is easy to swallow – especially when you first learn your child has a hearing loss.
I remember reading many of these articles and feeling a sinking feeling in my stomach. Was my child going to have these problems? Just how bad IS this “mild to moderate” hearing loss anyway?” How can “mild” be so bad? It was scary… and still can be sometimes when I start reading . It’s enough to make you think, “maybe, I should stop reading and go bury my head in the sand!”. Of course, you know that’s not the answer… but, it’s tempting!
Believing that your child even HAS a hearing problem is maybe the hardest thing to do when first diagnosed. It’s just hard to accept – or maybe to even notice. I know I was completely shocked initially. Mild-moderate hearing loss is just plain easy to miss. In our case, it wasn’t until my son was about 4 years old that we realized his speech was a little off… and it wasn’t until third grade that he started showing any signs of struggling at all in school.
This is also why learning about hearing loss is a bit double-edged too. Part of you wants to not believe these things could be applying to your own child, and in all reality not ALL of it does. However, there IS a real need for people (especially parents, doctors, schools and teachers, etc.) to realize that mild-moderate hearing loss actually IS a problem. Because just like it was hard for you to believe and accept that your child has a “problem”, it’s often very difficult for others as well… and that poses a very different, and very real sort of problem for you and your child – and that is getting real needs (whatever they might be) – met.
For many years, and often still today, children with mild and moderate hearing loss were called “forgotten” or “overlooked” . That’s why they call it the “”invisible disability”. It’s easily misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and dismissed. Hearing aids, FM systems, speech therapy, etc., ARE real needs for most kids with mild-moderate hearing loss. Children with hearing loss, even mild, should get assistance to have needs met with a 504 or IEP plan. Yet often schools will say something like, “well, Johnny isn’t failing so they don’t qualify for assistance”… or “Johnny can hear well enough“. Someone might even accuse your child of having “behavioral” issues and tell you they think they can hear “just fine!”. It’s times like that you will really want to know the information in these articles, including the scary stats. You will want to be able to explain and prove that even a mild hearing loss really DOES (or CAN) pose a real problem. You will want to do this so that you can make sure your child gets what he/she needs.
So, how DO you figure out just what your child needs? Well, it’s not easy… but, the more you learn and read and research yourself… the better you can make those tough decisions. Talk to other parents – I think they are probably the biggest help. Explore ALL options. There’s a lot of options… and they just keep coming up with more! It can be pretty overwhelming… but, take your time and take it one step at a time. This is an ongoing thing… live and learn kind of thing. You can’t possibly figure it all out overnight – and you don’t have to.
And here’s some REALLY GOOD NEWS,
which, I’m sure you could use right about now! Especially if you just found out your child has a hearing loss. Please hear this next part loud and clear:
- Many of the problems that you will read about, that research shows regarding children with hearing loss, actually apply to HOH kids who do NOT GET ANY preventative help! This means they had a hearing loss, and did NOT get diagnosed, and/or did not get hearing aids, and FM system, basic understanding etc.
This is probably COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than your situation. Because just by discovering your child has Hearing Loss, and your learning about what that means – you can prevent and/or minimize many of these scary stats!
YOUR CHILD will HAVE the assistance they need, because YOU will make sure they do! Right? Right!
So, please do NOT let every article and list or problems for kids with HL send you over the deep end. Please KNOW that just because you read something in an article, or hear it’s “the norm” for many HOH kids – doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the norm for your child.
Each child… and each hearing loss is so individualized.
For an example, below is a list I recently found online, as part of an article called, “Effects of Hearing Loss on Development“, from: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/disorders/effects.htm … it’s a good article and has more info in it if you want to check it out in its entirety.
Since my son, AC, is now 13 years old – I thought it would be interesting to see how he “fits” with the list. So, I pasted the list of “Specific Effects” below… and then put my comments in red in parentheses ( ) …
- Vocabulary develops more slowly in children who have hearing loss.
(NOT TRUE for us. AC had a HUGE vocabulary, very early on – it was just his pronunciation that was off).
- Children with hearing loss learn concrete words like cat, jump, five, and red more easily than abstract words like before, after, equal to, and jealous. They also have difficulty with function words like the, an, are, and a. (never noticed this – perhaps this applies more if there isn’t any intervention or hearing aids, and/or less reading)
- The gap between the vocabulary of children with normal hearing and those with hearing loss widens with age. Children with hearing loss do not catch up without intervention.
(we had intervention – and doesn’t seem to be an issue for AC)
- Children with hearing loss have difficulty understanding words with multiple meanings. For example, the word bank can mean the edge of a stream or a place where we put money. (again… never noticed this)
- Children with hearing loss comprehend and produce shorter and simpler sentences than children with normal hearing. (never noticed )
- Children with hearing loss often have difficulty understanding and writing complex sentences, such as those with relative clauses (“The teacher whom I have for math was sick today.”) or passive voice (“The ball was thrown by Mary.”) (never noticed)
- Children with hearing loss often cannot hear word endings such as -s or -ed. This leads to misunderstandings and misuse of verb tense, pluralization, nonagreement of subject and verb, and possessives. (TRUE – This DID happen with AC… )
- Children with hearing loss often cannot hear quiet speech sounds such as “s,” “sh,” “f,” “t,” and “k” and therefore do not include them in their speech. Thus, speech may be difficult to understand. (definitely. This DID happen but, a little speech therapy, Hearing Aids and FM helped with this a lot)
- Children with hearing loss may not hear their own voices when they speak. They may speak too loudly or not loud enough. They may have a speaking pitch that is too high. They may sound like they are mumbling because of poor stress, poor inflection, or poor rate of speaking. (AC was a loud kid… and talked loudly.. but not so much we noticed why at first. Now, we all talk loudly. =)
- Children with hearing loss have difficulty with all areas of academic achievement, especially reading and mathematical concepts. (NOT TRUE for us – but this was WITH hearing aids, and FM system. AC is a great student, high honor roll, and has ALWAYS been a VERY advanced reader and excels in math. I would suggest reading a LOT with any kid early on, but even more so if your child has hearing loss. AC’s reading skills were a huge help. What he couldn’t hear, he could read to clarify or better understand something.)
- Children with mild to moderate hearing losses, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing, unless appropriate management occurs. (NOT True for us! See above comment… )
- Children with severe to profound hearing loss usually achieve skills no higher than the third or fourth-grade level, unless appropriate educational intervention occurs early. (Key Words: “unless appropriate educational intervention“. )
- The gap in academic achievement between children with normal hearing and those with hearing loss usually widens as they progress through school. (3rd grade was a turning point for us.. but, I believe the harder work gets, the more important his hearing becomes. He can’t “skate by” or rely on visual clues as much as directions become more complex. However, by the time he was in high school his “reading lips”, self advocating, and finding other ways to manage DID improve, making some things much easier. )
- The level of achievement is related to parental involvement and the quantity, quality, and timing of the support services children receive. (I believe it! If you don’t ask, and sometimes PUSH to get what you need for your child – nobody will. You can NOT rely on the school OR your child’s doctor (unfortunately) to always TELL YOU what is best for your child.)
- Children with severe to profound hearing losses often report feeling isolated, without friends, and unhappy in school, particularly when their socialization with other children with hearing loss is limited. (While AC has had his moments when this, for the most part, it hasn’t been true. AC has lots of friends and participates in many activities with them over the years (CubScouts, Baseball, Orchestra, Cross Country, Track, etc. )
- These social problems appear to be more frequent in children with a mild or moderate hearing losses than in those with a severe to profound loss. (I’ve read this.. and can see where it could be true, so I’ve worried about it. However, AC seems to handle this very well.)
So, there you have more than my two cents worth! =) I do hope that makes some of those lists a little less scary to some parents out there. The article I cut that list from has more info in it and is actually very informative – so check it out at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/disorders/effects.htm.
Just remember to take all the information in that you read, but make note that many of those “scary stats” are talking about children who do NOT get any kind of intervention (ex. early diagnosis, hearing aids, FM system, ASL, basic consideration, etc.!) – and apply whatever you read as necessary to your situation.
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