Summer is fading fast and schools are stocked with Back to School Specials and School Supplies. Teachers and students alike are frantically trying to get one more dip in the pool, one more quick vacation, one more late night icecream before summer fades into fall. It is so true that summer goes far faster than Jan, Feb and March.. time is truly a mystery.
The last few years have been..well, tough, for students and staff. Pandemic, school closures, masks, no masks, masks, virtual learning, virtual teaching, rules of what can and can't be taught, children relearning how to literally sit and listen or sit and watch.. mentally and physically exhausting for all. Due to these issues and more, many staff are fleeing the profession. There are limited Deaf and Hard of Hearing teachers to start with, because the DHH population is only 10% of the population... and now with staff leaving, where does this leave your child and our teams?
Many districts are choosing to hire teachers without licenses. Some feel that if that person was in the military, they know discipline. Some feel that if that person was a skilled welder, or studied History in college, they have the knowledge to teach a subject. I strongly believe staff need training in how to teach a child.
I believe teaching starts with a child's heart. As Flip Flippen states and teaches, "Capture a child's heart and you will capture their mind." We need to see children as whole humans. .. whole children who need love, attention, understanding patience, differentiation and respect. They also need to be taught their abc's, reading, science, history and math. Staff needs support from home and at school.
I believe neither home nor school can educate our children. We must work together to create safe spaces for our kids. Get your kids excited about the upcoming year. Create a resource to share with your child's teacher about their strengths , interests and areas of need. Help your teacher see your child as the wonderful and unique person they are. Cheers to the rest of summer!
Hello everyone and welcome back! I took a break , while life took its ups and downs.. I think it is so important that we all share the hard times and then the solutions you have found navigating virtual school for your children. I know as a Teacher of kids who have hearing loss, it's been a struggle. My students are not Deaf and do not sign.. some ways that has been easier, but also some ways it has been harder.
Virtual School Pros: no need for masks when communicating! My mouth and facial expressions are fully accessible during instruction. However, a con is that internet can be choppy and words can be hard to understand over the virtual platform. The bonus is we use Google Meet and it has an option of captions-great skill to teach your children!! However, when I want to do listening skills with my students, they are smart enough to know they can get help from captions, so that's a bit of a struggle!!
Isolation is already a thing sometimes for kids with hearing loss, as they can't always hear the whispered jokes or giggles in class, and students often say,"Oh, it's nothing." VS taking time to repeat to children with hearing loss. That said, there is definitely more isolation noticed for all kids who are virtual,but I see my kids with hearing loss really missing that 1:1 in person interaction. We focus alot right now on the physical health and safety for people during this time-please take note of your children's mental health, too.
This is a tricky time for staff and students,but I also feel like it is a great time to work on advocacy skills-kids have to be very specific in telling me what part of their hearing equipment is not working, so we are learning parts , etc. I want to hear some of the struggles and how they have overcome them. Please leave a comment below!!
As a teacher of kids with hearing loss, I often get the question, "How often should my kid wear hearing aids a day?" My answer is always, "How many hours is your child awake, minus bath or shower time?" I usually am greeted with a blank stare.
Families have the misconception that they can have their kids just use their hearing aids at school. Hearing aids are different than glasses... they are vital for picking up information that we "over hear " or are not taught directly. Yes, you can learn to see things as well, with glasses, but the language piece you miss when your aids are off (if you are not a sign user) is huge.
We send kids home with math homework and English work, because we want them to practice what they learned at school. The same thing comes wth hearing. Kids need to practice what they heard at home. They will also learn new vocab from the TV , their siblings and the dinner table. If parents treat language and hearing aids as a positive, then the kid will be excited to play with sounds and language.
That being said, it is exhausting for kids with hearing loss to learn and listen and learn. So by days' end, they may want a break-work with your child and see if they want an hour break after school or an hour off before bed. The more you hear , the more you will learn!
Let's face it, if you are a parent, you have encountered a child who has been angry or has had a tantrum at one time or the other. That's normal behavior, albeit annoying at times.
However, think about your child with hearing loss. Does he or she seem to tantrum more often than other children? Does he or she toss things? Does he or she hit? Does he or she not follow directions?
I am going to ask you to read this post when you are NOT going through one of the above situations, so you are more calm and level headed.
Children with hearing loss often have difficulties communicating. They can't always articulate their wants, needs or desires. They can't always understand what you want from them and don't always understand your facial expressions until you get to the point of full out anger. These are all normal experiences that children with hearing loss go through. It is very frustrating at times for them.
They don't understand or aren't able to express themselves right, and then Mom or Dad get mad and they seriously are confused as to why they get in trouble.
Work with your child. Look at him or her when you are communicating so that there is a clear path for information to flow, whether it is signed or spoken. Get your child's attention before you request something, so you are sure he or she truly can hear and understand. Stop what you are doing and pay attention when your child is requesting something. Encourage him or her to keep explaining with gestures, more words, more signs,etc, if you are unsure-just don't say, 'oh, forget it.'
Most of all, give your child and yourself time and space and allow the communication to grow and evolve. Don't punish, but rather try to figure out ways to improve communication and lessen frustration. If you are frustrated, I guarantee, your child is,too.
Holidays can be lonely
Holidays are full of hustle and bustle, tradition, travel , noise and family .For most of us, it has a bit of stress added in. For children and adults with hearing loss, there can also be extra stress and loneliness.
At first thought, you might find this odd..this is the BEST time of the year, right? Well, try to imagine yourself from their point of view. If a child or adult only signs and the family and friends with whom they get together with during the holidays do not sign, this makes communicating very hard. Perhaps some people have taken time or interest and know some basic greetings..but after that, people often talk quickly and move on. If a child or adult uses listening and spoken language, it is not necessarily much easier. People speak fast, there is background noise, people are moving all over while talking, which distorts their voice and makes it very hard for someone to speech read. Often, children and adults with hearing loss became extremely lonely and feel left out.
There is hope. Plan ahead. If you are inviting people with hearing loss to your home, have paper and pencil or technology available to make communication flow easier. If you are a parent or spouse of someone with hearing loss going to someone's home, bring some communication options along. Set up seating in a semi circle, so people can all see each other. Remind people to get the person with hearing loss' attention first, before speaking or signing.
This may not make the communication perfect, but it will allow that person to feel intentionally included. This helps that person want to advocate more and some of the loneliness can disappear.
Another great idea is to buy some movies or books for the child with hearing loss that have characters in them who have hearing loss, so they can relate. It is also a great idea to get them for the families who don't have hearing loss, so they can start to learn about hearing loss.
Deaf vs deaf
People in 2018 are very aware of labels, names, categories, etc. It is not politically correct to call people "disabled",but some people prefer to be called 'disabled.' Others prefer to be called "differently abled." I have learned long ago, that it is not my place to decide what to "label" or "call " people. I do my best and hope people will politely share with me how they would like to be addressed.
When it comes to hearing loss, there are many ways people want to be addressed. Some people say, "Deaf". Some people say, "deaf". Some people say, " hearing impaired," while others feel offended by that term. Some people say, " hard of hearing " even if they have no hearing and use a cochlear implant.
When I work with my students, I try to explain the medical terms vs the cultural terms. It is not my place to decide for them how they refer to themselves,but I do try to educate.
If a person is 'deaf', that literally means that on an audiogram, when their hearing is tested, they have a significant hearing loss. That means they can not hear without amplification. For some, it means that even with hearing aids, there is no understandable hearing. This person may use a cochlear implant and be able to understand spoken language after much therapy. For someone to be labeled "hard of hearing", it usually means a person has hearing loss,but in the mid ranges. This person does get benefit from a hearing aid and is able to understand spoken language.
When a person identifies himself as " Deaf", it is related to culture. It means he feels he belongs to the Deaf culture-knows/uses American Sign Language, does not feel like he has "lost" anything because he can 't hear some or all spoken language. He may have a significant hearing loss or a mild one,but it is how he culturally feels. A person who calls herself "hearing impaired " usually is someone who fits in more with the hearing world and sees the hearing loss as a deficit medically, not a culture.
There is no right or wrong way a person should label herself. People 's perspectives and understanding of their hearing losses may change over their lives, due to changing hearing loss or due to the people they meet. It saddens me when one group tells the other group that they are wrong. My hope is that people in both the 'deaf' and the "Deaf" community can come together and be open for all people to flow in and out of each group.
Is ASL universal?
I get this question often, 'Is ASL universal?'. Ummm, no.. First off, it means AMERICAN sign language. Second of all, does the world speak English? Sure, most Europeans learn it as a second language, but it is not their main language. Why is that, you might ask? The answer is simple=culture.
Culture plays a huge part in our language and how it evolves. Do you know that in some cultures, it is disrespectful NOT to look an elder in the eyes, yet in another culture, it is disrespectful if you DO look an elder in the eye. Did you know that Eskimos have such levels of cold that there are 50 spoken words in their language that describe snow alone!
Transfer that over to signed language. Motion, dialect, gestures, facial expression, eye contact all play a role in these visual languages. So, no , there is not a universal sign language.
When I went to Europe, I met 3 different groups of people who were signing and talked to 2 of the groups. It was comical,about as comical as me trying to speak English to someone in Slovakia who didn't know English. We tried, pointed and smiled alot. The first group I met was from Italy. How did I know-they drew the shape of the country in the air and then , yup, wrote ITALY on a paper;) Interestingly, they knew the sign for America that is in ASL-not sure if it is the same in Italian signs. They were thrilled to have me come over and chat and we muddled through with pen, paper and gestures. Later, I met a couple in Iceland. They knew English, so they could read my lips and half gestured and half spoke to converse with me. The last group I saw in the Iceland airport. It was crazy busy at the ticket counter and I was beyond exhausted, so I didn't converse. It was magical to me, though, to see signing all over Europe. It was frustrating, and mildly brain confusing, to not be able to understand it. It is such a given to me that when I see someone signing, I can understand.
My daughter is constantly pushing her brain to learn new spoken language.. I am going to look into seeing if I can find apps or something to try to learn some foreign sign languages... Keep ya posted!
So, now what?
My last blog was about the big decision of whether or not you should buy or not buy a hearing aid. Now, you have made the decision that it is time for you to buy one. Now what? Where do you go?What do you buy?
There are many types of hearing aids made from many different hearing aid companies. You can buy a Behind The Ear (BTE) hearing aid, In The Ear (ITE) hearing aid, Cross hearing aid, In the Canal hearing aid....the list seems endless.
First and most importantly, you need to find an audiologist that you are most comfortable with. It is important that you find a pediatric audiologist if you have children or a good audiologist for adults if you are an adult. Next, you need to understand your type of hearing loss. You might have a sensorineural hearing loss ,which is in the inner ear, or a conductive hearing loss, which is a middle ear hearing loss. Different type of hearing loss require different hearing aids.
Please respect the professional and follow her suggestion. It may be hard for you to accept your hearing loss and you might not be quite ready for hearing aids,but you are making an investment. it is important that you choose wisely. Why buy something that won't last or won't be helpful?
My personal and professional opinion is that In the Ear hearing aids might be ne invisible,but they are not very successful for many kinds of hearing aids. Think wisely before you purchase those. Today, you can have so much fun accessorizing your hearing aids! Hailey's Cherished Charms are great charms purchased for your hearing aids to jazz them up.
I would love you to share your pictures of your hearing aids and how you decided on the type,color and size.
Hearing Aids-to buy or not to buy?
There are so many confusing questions around buying hearing aids. Let's start, however, at the beginning. How do you know if your hearing loss even warrants a hearing aid? You go to the expert,right?
Sure, adults and kids alike go to to the audiologist who tests their hearing. They depend on this audiologist to explain the hearing test results , called an audiogram, and explain whether or not they have a hearing loss. General public also relies on the audiologist to recommend if they need a hearing aid or not.
Here is where the trouble begins. I have had students with moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears be told by their audiologist that they do NOT need hearing aids. I have seen adults who have a mild high frequency loss be told that they do need hearing aids... How do you know what is right?
In general, I would suggest you listen to the audiologist. You can even consider getting a second opinion. Ask why the audiologist thinks you do or do not need them. This is the important part. For children, language learning and concept mapping takes place during the early years of life. If you are wanting your children to become listeners and speakers, then it is important to get them aided early. In quiet, in a booth, children might be able to understand sounds and even words. It is more important to have your child tested in noise. This is when hearing and understanding breaks down. Many audiologist are not educational audiologist or pediatric audiologists. I encourage you to take your children to someone who has a good understanding of not just hearing loss, but also how hearing loss affects learning in a noisy classroom.
As for adults, again, if you can hear well in a quiet booth, have your audiologist test you in noise. Can you understand? Think about your job, your hobbies, your life..what do you do? If you are often lecturing in a quiet setting or working alone or even 1:1, you might not need hearing aids. However, if you enjoy dining out, attend conferences with many people, are a part of a large corporation where numerous staff sits at a table and "takes turns"(ie, interrupts each other) talking, you might need hearing aids.
Hearing aids are a big decision. Take time to think it over, ask for second opinions, and read up. Let me know what you decided.
Transitions can be really hard for all of us..change is the unknown, the unforseen,the never been done before.. We might think we know what to expect,but often it is better or worse than we imagine. For children with hearing loss, transition can be very difficult.
There are many types of transitions kids go through. It is the end of a school year-that is a huge transition. Changing to all day daycare vs home or school is a big transition. Changing from home to camp to swim lessons are littler transitions,but still have impact. Children with hearing loss often need information broken down, repeated,and rephrased in learning new information in school. The same goes for talking about transitions. Without extra prep on your end, transitions can become quite scary.
What can we do to help ease the fears and worries that go with these transitions? It is really important that families and staff working with children who have hearing loss talk alot about upcoming transitions. Create visuals-have a calendar to count down the days. Have a calendar to show the new events-are swim lessons weekly, twice/week, will day care be daily, half a day, twice/week? The options are endless. Sometimes children with hearing loss don't understand the full message-they might think they are going to day care or swim one time and that that event is over. Having discussions, preplanning,and having visuals lessens the confusion.
Try to keep some routine and some comfortable parts of the old routine mixed into the new-maybe they will use their school backpack to go to daycare, maybe they will take a stuffed animal from home for nap time at day care, maybe they will always get picked up for swim lessons at the same time of day. Try to incorporate things that give your children comfort when you are planning transitions.
Most importantly, remember, you were young once, too. Slow down and try to picture the world from their eyes. What may seem silly or inconsequential to you might be the biggest fear of these little guys' lives-give them the attention and love you know they deserve. A hug and a smile go a long way.
Allison Schley is a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children. She took her passion for kids with hearing loss and became an author. She wants all children with hearing loss to know they are amazing and that hearing loss will not keep them from following their dreams.