Explaining Deafness to Your Child with Hearing Loss

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					These two boys agreed with a third      Cheryl K. Olson, ScD is an inter-       at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ol-
that seeing kissing in a game was       nationally known expert on health       son recently led a two-year, $1.5
okay at age 15.                         behavior change and the effects of      million research project to study
                                        media on teens. She is co-director      how and why adolescents use
After all, boys know they aren’t                                                electronic games, funded by the
                                        and co-founder of the Center for
going to save Earth from an alien                                               Office of Juvenile Justice and De-
                                        Mental Health and Media in the
invasion or machine-gun gangs of                                                linquency Prevention, U.S. Depart-
                                        Department of Psychiatry at Mas-
bad guys... but they will eventually                                            ment of Justice. She has published
                                        sachusetts General Hospital, and a
have to face girls.                                                             articles on teen behavior.
                                        member of the psychiatry faculty




Explaining Deafness to Your Child with Hearing
Loss
                                        By K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, Cert. AVT
When a child is born, parents—by        feel prepared to discuss the diag-      For example, if the child’s hearing
nature—are filled with joy and          nosis with their child and struggle     loss worsens and a new diagnosis
happiness over the arrival of the       with knowing when and how to            is obtained, the parents may ex-
new addition to the family. In the      successfully address the situation      perience many of the same emo-
child, parents see an unbridled         within the family.                      tions once again. When the child
future full of opportunity and                                                  transitions from one educational
hope. When the infant or toddler        Emotional Impact of Child’s             program to another—such as go-
receives a diagnosis of sensorineu-     Deafness                                ing from preschool to kindergarten
ral (permanent) hearing loss, the       Parents often describe leaving the      —parents must inform a new set
parents’ image of that child’s fu-      pediatric audiologist’s or physi-       of educators about their child’s
ture is altered. The parents may        cian’s office feeling numb and not      diagnosis. In doing so, parents re-
experience a sense of loss that         remembering any of the informa-         live what has happened with their
parallels that of a death; at that      tion that was shared. The only          child. Thus, during these times of
moment in time, the parents’ vi-        thing they describe recalling is the    transition, parents may be espe-
sion of the child’s future has just     initial diagnosis indicating their      cially vulnerable to a resurgence
died. In its place is an unknown        child is “deaf.” They have difficulty   of emotions.
void. Before parents are ready to       recalling most of the information
openly discuss deafness with their      that follows. The diagnosis sends       While acceptance of the child’s
child, they must first learn to deal    parents on a physical and emo-          hearing loss is a long-term goal,
with their own emotions.                tional rollercoaster. Professional      perhaps a better way to approach
                                        counselors describe parents as          the situation is through an ongoing
Today, research shows that ap-          going through various emotional         process of adjustment and adapta-
proximately 95% of parents of           stages—sadness, anger, denial,          tion. Parents need a strong support
children diagnosed with perma-          depression—until they eventually        system that is often comprised of
nent hearing loss are hearing           arrive at a level of acceptance with    trusted professionals and service
themselves. That is, both parents       the diagnosis.                          providers, extended family mem-
typically have normal hearing, and                                              bers, and most impo
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Validate Frustration While remaining positive is critical, children with hearing loss also must know that their parents actually listen to their concerns and frustrations. [...] parents must develop good listening skills, and often this means simply allowing their children the opportunity to share their feelings or to talk about issues that bother them. Additionally, children with hearing loss should have the opportunity to meet and socialize with other children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Because of the relatively low incidence, a child may think that she is the only person her age experiencing hearing loss.
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