Two to three out of every thousand Americans are born with some degree of hearing loss, yet only a small number of them grow up to find their lives severely limited as a result. This doesn’t mean that their hearing problems generally go away. What it means is that most of them find ways to work around them. In order to give your child the best chance possible in life, you need to show them that it has lots to offer to them despite their hearing issues, and help them enjoy it.
Take action early
Intervening early to reduce the impact of your child’s hearing impairment will give them the chance to develop the same skills as other children as they grow up, especially when it comes to communication and socializing. Implants like Miracle-Ear can now be fitted at a very early age. They’re comfortable for children to wear and after they’re fitted children usually catch up with their peers very quickly. Taking action like this also helps to reduce the pressure on parents and promote happier family relationships.
Make communication fun
Put too much focus on trying to encourage your child’s speech development and you’ll make it feel like a chore. Getting help from expert speech therapists is a great idea but kids need to learn that speech can also be part of play. Shared songs and rhyming games are a good way to learn this. Look directly at your child as you talk so they can see how your mouth moves, encouraging imitation. Focus on already familiar words and build from there. Make words part of guessing games and always be ready to stop when your child starts to get tired.
Provide opportunities to socialize
Socializing with kids their own age is one of the best ways for children to learn. It can be fantastic for their confidence if they get to spend time with other hearing impaired kids and understand that they’re not alone in having difficulties, but they should also mix with hearing children so they get practice engaging with speech and with sound more generally. This is one environment in which adults may wish to plug their ears!
Get smart about family activities
With a hearing impaired child in the family, traditional activities like going to the movies are not always going to be relaxing as they should be, and sports can be complicated by balance issues, but there are plenty of things you can do together that will be fun for everyone. If there’s a petting zoo nearby spending time with animals can be great for your child because it’s a chance to communicate and express affection non-verbally. Activities like picnicking, going to the beach or visiting hands-on museums can be thrilling because of the way they appeal to the other senses.
Making sure children have opportunities like this means they can enjoy life like others of their age and understand themselves as whole human beings not defined by their impairments. It gives them room to develop their own interests and define their own destinies.