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I’m finding it hard to come to terms with my son’s diagnosis and what it might mean for my family and my son. [Read More...]
Question: I’m finding it hard to come to terms with my son’s diagnosis and what it might mean for my family and my son. He is almost six months old now and I am still struggling. How can I get support?
Answer: Each community offers different resources for support. You can start to find resources in your area by asking your child’s doctor for recommendations. You may also want to ask the audiologist or other service providers you work with. You may find help through your local health department. There are counselors, social workers, and psychologists that have experience that can help you get through this difficult time. Reaching out is an important step to help you come to terms with the hearing loss, and to help you know how best to help your son. You and your family will work through this and begin to see a new and exciting future, even though it is different than what you were expecting. Talking with other parents who have gone through this can also provide you with comfort, support and hope. The tutorial on Making Connections offers additional resources you may find helpful.
When children get hearing aids, do they need to wear them their whole life? [Read More...]
Question: When children get hearing aids, do they need to wear them their whole life?
When a hearing test is done, the audiologist can determine the part of the ear that has a problem. When a hearing loss is caused by a problem in the outer or middle part of the ear, the doctor may be able to address the problem with medicine or surgery. If this is the case, the hearing loss is temporary, and hearing aids are not usually needed. When a hearing loss is caused by a problem in the inner part of the ear, it is usually a permanent hearing loss and unlikely to improve over time. If hearing aids are needed, they will likely be needed throughout life. Hearing aids provide amplification to overcome the problem that is making it harder for the child to hear. Sometimes hearing loss can get worse over time. For this reason, it is important to monitor your child’s hearing regularly. If hearing changes, the hearing aids can be adjusted, and if needed an evaluation for a cochlear implant can be done to see if an implant is needed.
Why does my daughter react to sounds when she is not wearing her hearing aids? [Read More...]
Question: Why does my daughter react to sounds when she is not wearing her hearing aids? How can her audiologist be sure she really has a hearing loss, she is only five months old?
For many parents the diagnosis of a hearing loss can be hard to understand. Often there are no physical signs you can see, and most children with hearing loss are born to parents who have normal hearing. Because this likely is not something you were expecting, it can be hard to accept. The tests used to determine hearing levels for infants check how each part of the ear is working, this provides detailed information about the part of the ear that has a problem. Our ears are sensitive to sounds from very low to very high pitches, and hearing levels are often different across the pitches. For example, it is common to hear low pitched sounds better then high pitched sounds. This means your daughter may hear and react to some sounds better than others. The hearing test results are recorded on a form called an audiogram. Ask your audiologist to give you a copy of the test results each time your daughter has a hearing test. It is important for you to understand what she hears and doesn’t hear so you know what to expect. There is a tutorial on how to read an audiogram if you want to learn more about how to understand the test results, and other helpful links are listed under resources for the tutorial.
Hi, I have a child in a kindergarten DHH classroom and we are getting ready to have his IEP next week. [Read More...]
Question: Hi, I have a child in a kindergarten DHH classroom and we are getting ready to have his IEP next week. At a recent parent-teacher conference, his classroom teacher mentioned that we will discuss the option of full inclusion in a first grade general education classroom at the IEP since he is performing at grade level and has had success during his mainstreaming opportunities this school year. I’m a little worried because I want to make sure that he has the supports he needs to be successful if he is in a general education classroom all day. His current teacher mentioned that a possible support would be a DHH itinerant teacher. I would like more information on the role of the itinerant teacher and the kinds of goals that he or she may work on with my child. Thank you!
Answer: What a great question because it is so important to be as prepared as possible for all topics that will likely come up during the IEP! Preparing your child- and yourself!- for full-time inclusion with his general education peers is a huge time of transition. Until now, your child has likely thrived in a small classroom for children with hearing loss under the guidance of a DHH teacher. Itinerant teachers are essentially traveling teachers of the deaf with a caseload of children who are enrolled full-time in a general education classroom. Your child’s needs will help to dictate how often his itinerant teacher provides service (ranging from once a week to once a semester), as well as the nature of the service (pull-out for individual sessions or push-in for in-class support and/or consultation with his classroom teacher). The goals are often auditory and/or advocacy-based, as the itinerant teacher will make sure that your child continues to develop the auditory skills needed to access the general education curriculum, as well the skills needed to manage his new listening environment and advocate for his needs. Often times, itinerant teachers are responsible for monitoring your child’s hearing technology and will likely have a direct relationship with an educational audiologist who can help with troubleshooting as needed.
It is not unusual for a young child who is in his first year of transition into a general education classroom to receive support by a DHH itinerant teacher at least once a week, to monitor his hearing technology, consult with the classroom teacher, and pull-out for individual service as needed. Typically, a DHH itinerant teacher would not be directly responsible for providing speech and language services, so if you feel that your child would benefit speech and language therapy, that is certainly another topic that should be discussed.
We recently found out our daughter has a hearing loss and she has hearing aids. [Read More...]
Question: We recently found out our daughter has a hearing loss and she has hearing aids. I am feeling so overwhelmed. I don't know what to make sure I do or where to start. What should I focus on?
Answer: I am glad you are reaching out and asking questions. Parents often feel overwhelmed, there is so much to learn. A good place to start is getting into habits that help you remember what to do. Each morning it is important to listen to her hearing aids to make sure they are working well before you put them on. You want her to hear clear sounds when she is wearing her hearing aids. Sometimes people keep the hearing aids in a place that is already a part of the morning routine. That way it is easier to remember to include the hearing aids as you get her ready in the morning. Getting started and used to the routine will help you feel more comfortable and confident. There are videos on Hear to Learn that offer more details on taking care of hearing aids and using hearing aids. You may also find it helpful to talk with other parents. Some states have parent-to-parent groups, and there are online options for connecting with others. You are off to a good start by asking questions, keep checking in and finding the support you need.
How old does a child have to be before he or she can be fit with hearing aids? [Read More...]
Question: How old does a child have to be before he or she can be fit with hearing aids?
Answer: This is an important question. For healthy full-term infants, it is possible for hearing aids to be fit within the first weeks of life. Several steps need to happen for an appropriate fitting, and this can take time. A comprehensive hearing test, that provides hearing levels for each ear individually at low and high frequencies, is needed to appropriately adjust the hearing aid settings. Professional guidelines (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing [JCIH], 2007) state that the hearing evaluation should be completed before 3 months of age, and hearing aids should be fit within 1 month of the hearing loss diagnosis. Sometimes determining how the hearing aids will be funded can cause a delay. Ask your audiologist if there are loaner hearing aids your child can use during this period.
My child is hearing impaired in a mainstreamed, oral program with support services that include a TOD and personal FM system. [Read More...]
Question: My child is hearing impaired in a mainstreamed, oral program with support services that include a TOD and personal FM system. What are options to include closed captioning for videos shown in the classroom? Currently, the only cc is when it is already built in to a video. Thank you
Answer: Thank you for your question. Yes, with today’s technological capabilities, children who are deaf or hard of hearing should always have accessible information during all classroom activities. When closed captions (CC) are not a built-in feature of a video, there are a variety of options the school can take to add this visual support. Of course, there are professional services that can add CC for a fee, such as rev.com, syncwords.com, or captioneasy.com. However, in many cases, your child’s school district’s IT (Informational Technology) division should have personnel who know how to add captioning relatively easily by using readily-available programs such as Adobe Premier Pro. Captions can be manually added or via speech-to-text conversion software. If you have not approached the school principal about getting captions added to videos shown in the classroom, this would be a good first step. If you have already raised the question with no resolution, you may consider asking the principal to contact the school district main office since there may be more IT capability at the district level than at the school level. We would be surprised to learn of substantial barriers given the availability of captioning technology. Good luck and please let us know if you have additional questions.
Hi, I am a teacher in the field of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. [Read More...]
Question: Hi, I am a teacher in the field of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. We have a student just transferred to our district he is Autistic and does not have goals for DHH services but, because we know he has hearing aids bilateral and refuses to wear them, we need to address communication goals on the IEP. Our district nurse tested him and he passed the hearing screening. Does that mean we do not address the use of hearing aids?
Answer: When children have hearing loss and Autism Spectrum Disorder hearing testing and managing the hearing aids can be challenging. It is great that you are considering all of his needs, and that the nurse completed a hearing screening. If you have not asked, you will want to know how the nurse screened his hearing. Some screening tests are more reliable and accurate than others. Because this child is new to your district and has hearing aids, it is important to get more information about his previous diagnostic hearing test results. If possible, it would be helpful to get a copy for your records. It would also be important to have an audiologist in your area complete a diagnostic hearing test to determine his current hearing status and to determine if he should continue with the hearing aids. When you have comprehensive information about how he is hearing now, that will help you consider appropriate communication goals. If you find out that he does indeed need the hearing aids, behavior management strategies can help him move toward acceptance of the hearing aids. I wish all the best in your work!
What is the process that is involved with getting my child on an IEP plan? [Read More...]
Question: What is the process that is involved with getting my child on an IEP plan? I have heard that an IEP provides more benefits for a child than a 504. Is it possible to get my child off of a 504 plan and onto an IEP plan, if so how? If not, than how can I ensure that all of my child's needs are met through a 504? Is my child eligible for speech therapy with a 504 in place? Does my child only qualify for services when he is falling behind in subjects and struggling in the classroom? I honestly feel that all of the kids should have the continued support of an IEP up until middle school due to the critical learning curve. They are learning to read and then reading to learn- a very crucial time period for these kids and we should not have to wait for them to fall behind just to play catch-up down the road. They should be learning age appropriate materials along with their peers. Sorry for all the questions, I am just eager to ensure that my child has a positive learning experience in grade school. Thank you for your time and support!
Answer: First of all, you are right- every child deserves to have a positive learning experience, and we as professionals and parents can help to foster this positive experience by making sure that appropriate services are in place. Keep in mind: a child doesn’t need to be failing in order to qualify for special education/related services. This is usually a misconception held by parents and professionals. It sounds like the question at hand is which plan, the IEP or the 504 plan, will meet your child’s needs.
When considering the benefits of an IEP vs a 504 plan, it may be helpful to first consider some key differences between IEPs and 504s. IEPs fall under IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal special education law, and 504 plans are covered under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal civil rights law. Whereas IDEA provides special education services and related services, 504 plans provide services and changes to the learning environment. Thus, related services such as speech therapy could possibly be provided under a 504 plan.
Even if your child currently has a 504 plan, IDEA details that parents have a right to request a comprehensive evaluation in writing at any time. The assessment process will generate a formal IEP meeting in which the results are discussed and the IEP team, which includes the parents, will decide if the child qualifies for special education services. Special education services are not limited to special education classroom placement, but could also include related services such as speech-language therapy, DHH itinerant services, etc. Thus, if your child demonstrates near or at-age appropriate speech and language skills, he could possibly still benefit from a related service such as DHH itinerant service to help, for example, him learn to navigate the general education setting. This could be the case especially if he is in early elementary and is still relatively new to the general education setting. Close monitoring of our young students with hearing loss is so important, even those with typical listening and spoken language skills, because they are still at risk for literacy delays. But, remember, a related service can be provided via a 504 plan. You just need to decide if his 504 plan meets his needs, and it sounds like you have concerns that it may not. It may be helpful to know that there are dispute resolution procedures in place for both IEPs and 504s.
I would recommend having a conversation with the principal of your child’s school to explain your concerns. Open communication is key when collaborating with school professionals and ongoing conversations help to ensure that every one on your child’s education team is on the same page.
In the meantime, this website may be a resource for you as you determine how to approach your concerns with your school: Utah Parent Center
Hi, so my five year old has a cookie bite hearing loss, at higher frequency speech sounds. [Read More...]
Question: Hi, so my five year old has a cookie bite hearing loss, at higher frequency speech sounds. Mild in one ear and moderate in the other. And we were told that it is something affecting the hearing in the cochlea. Can you explain that? Can it be something that will get progressively worse? I've heard it can in the majority of cases. And I am wondering if there is a way to stimulate those pitches and sounds more that he has a deficit in to prevent more progressive loss like focusing on them more with his hearing aides on, like through speech therapy, or music therapy? If we found out later he did have progressive hearing loss wouldn't it be important to do therapy now even though he may not qualify for it in public school?
Answer: There is so much to learn when your child has a hearing loss, and you are asking great questions. A hearing loss that involves the cochlea means that structures in the inner part of the ear (the cochlea), called hair cells, are damaged. When hair cells are damaged, sounds need to be louder to hear them. Problems in the cochlea are permanent, and any permanent hearing loss has the chance that it may be progressive. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to know if a hearing loss will stay stable (not change) or if it will get worse. While it is not possible to prevent changes in hearing through therapy activities, it is important to protect his hearing from loud noise. Too much exposure to loud sounds can damage his hearing, and lead to more hearing loss. Speech and language therapy is important to help prevent delays, even if his hearing loss is stable.
What are some strategies that I can teach my son's mainstream teacher on how to trouble shoot his hearing aids/cochlear implants? [Read More...]
Question: What are some strategies that I can teach my son's mainstream teacher on how to trouble shoot his hearing aids/cochlear implants? What are ways that I can offer positive support towards the teacher without demeaning the relationship to ensure that the necessary steps are being taken for my child in the school environment? For instance: What if the teacher is not following through with regular listening checks? Parent confides in the child about the situation and he/she says, "No, the teacher did not do listening checks today. She was busy!" What are some positive reinforcer to encourage the teacher to utilize all means necessary to ensure that my child is benefiting from all school related activities. Also, include input about the importance of using an FM system while in school, if you don't mind! I've had to push for this during my child's transition to mainstream along with other things. Thank you for your time!
Answer: Helping your child succeed involves enlisting the help of others, and teachers play a critical role. Your questions are important. As you work with your son’s teachers, remember that the teacher may not be very familiar with hearing loss or hearing devices (hearing aids, cochlear implants, and FM systems). The equipment can be intimidating at first, and the teachers may lack confidence in how to check the devices. For teachers to troubleshoot hearing devices, they need to understand why it is important and how your son’s education is impacted if the devices are not used or are not working well. The teacher needs to have the right tools and support in learning the steps to check the devices. This support can come from you and others, such as your audiologist. It can also be helpful to provide the teacher with written steps that includes pictures of your child’s actual device. This may help the teacher remember what needs to be done and when. Creating a tip sheet for the teacher may also help the teacher know how your son’s hearing loss may affect his learning and experiences throughout the day, and what would make it better. For example, the teacher may not realize how distance and noise make it harder to understand. If the teacher is not following through with checking the devices or using the FM system, it is important for you to understand why. It can be helpful to let the teacher know that you understand that it can be intimidating and challenging - and that it is essential – so finding out what the barrier is and determining how to resolve it together is critical. They are your partners in your son’s education. Let them know you will work with them to get the habits in place. If you face resistance, talk with the school principal and the teacher to work out a plan. Be as present as you can, you will need to model advocacy for your child and help him learn how to advocate for himself, so he can manage issues that arise throughout the day.