May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is putting all of their efforts into building awareness about communication disorders, from the importance of early diagnosis, to communication strategies and life-altering treatments such as hearing aids.
This year, ASHA’s Better Speech and Hearing Month theme is “Communication for All.” ASHA has lots of resources on their website here to help you get informed about how hearing loss and other communication disorders affect people of all ages.
In honor of this month, let’s take a look at how hearing loss affects kids in school, and how you as a parent or educator can help.
How does hearing loss affect school-aged kids?
Hearing is vital to learning, and children with hearing loss often fall behind their hearing peers due to a lack of access to information in the classroom. Parents and educators need to work together to make sure hard of hearing students are able to hear and understand as much as possible, with the help of assistive hearing technologies, adapted classroom instruction, and other strategies. If you have a school-aged child with hearing loss, here are some tips to help them succeed in the education setting.
Hearing loss can affect children in the education setting in many different ways. Children who receive hearing loss treatment early with hearing aids have a better chance of feeling confident at school and experience fewer delays. Here is a closer look at the three main areas in which children may be impacted by their hearing loss at school.
- Communication: Hard of hearing children often show delays or experience difficulty with tasks involving language concepts, memory and comprehension, and receptive (understanding) and expressive (using) language tasks.
- Academics: Children with hearing loss may also exhibit problems with academic achievement, including language arts and vocabulary. They may have delays in spelling, math, problem-solving and reading, lower scores on achievement and verbal IQ tests, a greater need for enrollment in special education or support classes, and an increased need for support in the classroom.
- Social and behavioral: Children with hearing difficulties may describe themselves as feeling isolated, excluded, embarrassed, annoyed, confused and helpless. They may refuse to participate in group activities, act withdrawn or sullen, exhibit lower performance on measures of social maturity, or have significant problems following directions.
What are some ways you can help?
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the above list, don’t be. Remember that not all children with hearing loss experience these negative effects, and that there are a number of ways you and your child’s teacher can help them to succeed in the classroom
Know your child’s rights
Staying informed about your child’s rights will be vital in your efforts to advocate for them in the classroom. All children in the United States are entitled to free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Education services designed to meet the individual educational needs of qualified students with disabilities (including hearing loss) are provided by local school districts.
Get involved in creating your child’s individual education plan
When it comes to accommodating hard of hearing children in schools, an individualized education program (IEP) is of utmost importance in maximizing a child’s success in the educational setting. This plan may specify audiology services, speech-language pathology services, and services of teachers of the Deaf or hard of hearing. Parents have a right to participate in these meetings and are a vital part of the process.
Encourage the use of classroom technology
Technology, such as an FM system can make it easier for a child using a hearing aid or cochlear implant to understand what is being said in a noisy classroom. Other technology solutions, such as a sound-field system, can benefit all kids in the classroom. Your IEP team should consider the specific and unique technology needs of your child.
Talk to your child’s teacher about teaching strategies
Meeting with your child’s teacher and talking about effective teaching strategies is an important way to make sure your little learner’s needs are met. There are easy ways for teachers to help hard of hearing students, such as allowing them to sit in the front, given written as well as verbal instructions, always facing students while speaking, and using gestures and visual aids whenever possible.
Make classrooms quieter.
Noise makes it more difficult for hard of hearing children to understand their teacher’s instructions, and it gets in the way of many children’s ability to learn. Educate school staff about ways they can make classrooms quieter. These include using rugs or mats to cover bare floors, placing caps over chair legs, and turning off noisy classroom equipment when not in use.
Visit Us at Denver Audiology
To schedule a hearing test, contact us at Denver Audiology. Our team provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.