Parents often feel alone and overwhelmed when their child is first diagnosed with hearing loss. You will be asked to make decisions about hearing technology, what method your child will use to communicate and what kind of learning program you want for your child and family. First, remember you are not alone.
Early on, most families report that they struggle to know what is right or what feels like the best fit. Fortunately, early identification of hearing loss gives parents the opportunity to gather information and make informed decisions that are right for their child and their family from the very start. You can also talk to audiologists, speech-language pathologists, educators, social workers and psychologists who can help you sort through all the choices and find the answers that will keep your baby on track.
Start by taking the following steps:
- Contact parents who have experience raising children with hearing loss and can share their insights. Learning from their experiences may help you define your own choices. To find other parents in your area, ask your audiologist for other families or resources to connect with others.
- Read about the various communication options for people with hearing loss. Many people are familiar with sign language, but they may not know that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can also learn to listen and talk without using signs.
- Read about the different educational options. The AG Bell Bookstore offers a range of titles that present information on listening and spoken language.
- Contact the AG Bell chapter in your area and find out about other available programs in your community.
- If you have not yet been enrolled in early intervention through the newborn hearing screening, call your local school district or contact the early intervention coordinator in your area to find out about parent-infant programs for children with hearing loss. Each state is unique in how it provides early intervention services. to learn more about early hearing detection and intervention in your area, contact the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM). In addition a number of private programs are also available. Visit as many programs as are available in your area, because it will help you evaluate your options and give you a frame of reference for requesting specific accommodations.