Becoming a parent is a joyous occasion but it can also be a bit overwhelming. With all of the advice, fears, and the stress of having a newborn baby, many parents experience some anxiety when bringing their child home for the first time. When parents are told that their child could have a hearing disability, this might add an additional layer of anxiety or fear. Understandably, this could be a challenging and emotional time for the entire family. The good news, however, is that there are solutions to assist you when it comes to caring for your child’s needs and helping them experience all the joys of sound. While caring for a child with special needs will require some adjustments, it is possible for you and your child to have all of the same experiences as any other family. Let’s take a look at some tips for raising a child with hearing loss.
Embrace your child’s hearing loss.
Hearing loss in children can have a profound impact on parents as well as the child. After a hearing test and a diagnosis from an audiologist or other specialist, many parents may feel guilty and concerned for their child’s hearing. The fact is that there are numerous causes for hearing loss, no matter the child’s age. Still, parents are understandably concerned and fear that their kid’s hearing loss will lead to fewer opportunities in life. Such feelings are natural because all parents want the very best for their children.
After getting an exam and a pediatric hearing test, the next step is to figure out your plan. Your pediatrician, audiologist, or other hearing specialists will help you with treatment plans such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, auditory brainstem response therapy, or other procedures. Once you have that figured out, you have to take a step back and come to terms with the situation. You may be questioning if your child will be able to make friends, or if they will be able to get an education and a job. Your concerns are perfectly valid and are actually shared with most parents of all kinds of kids. In the past these devices were bulky and noticeable, but hearing aids that are rechargeable today are very discrete. Hearing aids and other types of hearing loss treatments have advanced so that even children with profound hearing loss can live happy normal lives.
Focus on the future.
There are several options to help manage the loss of hearing in children. One of the most important things to do, however, is to dream about the future with your child and encourage them to achieve. Hearing loss can lead to some language development issues and other developmental delays in younger children but that does not have to restrict your child’s enjoyment of life. Young children have an incredible ability to recover and bounce back. As they get older developmental delays will level off and your child’s disability will have less of an impact. This is why it is important to focus on the future. As your child reaches different age groups they will hit developmental milestones. Your pediatrician can help you look for these and create developmental goals. While a hearing disability will definitely lead to some challenges for young children, the best thing for you and your child will be to look at life in the future and what your child wants to be and accomplish. There is no reason why they cannot do some of the same things that others with normal hearing do.
Empower your child.
As much as you can, it is important to treat your child like a hearing child. They should have responsibilities within the family, be on equal terms with their siblings, and be included in every way that others are. While these things might seem like obvious steps, often parents of children with various types of hearing loss find it difficult to walk the line between protecting and expecting. Like all children, you should expect your child to become a strong, independent, self-reliant adult regardless of special need or physical impairment.
Aside from routine chores and other household expectations, your kid’s hearing impairment can also be used to empower them. You can involve them in hearing aid care. They can help with putting them into the case at night or changing the batteries. You can also use it as a way to teach them self-advocacy. You can help your child speak up for their listening needs and talk about communication issues. Additionally, throughout the years you will visit hearing centers and doctors. Allow them to speak to the audiologist and to have a say in what color hearing aid they wear. Doing things like this with your child will help them get past their disability and empower them to live healthy independent lives.
Having a child with hearing issues will change your life. It doesn’t have to define your life, however. Once you understand the situation and your child’s ability, you can focus on the future and empower them to live the best, most normal life possible.