Did you know that an estimated 30-40% of children who are deaf or hard of hearing are not “just deaf” but have other associated challenges? I like to call these children “deaf+” or “deaf plus” — children who, in addition to hearing loss, have other conditions, disabilities, or complicating factors.
So this might not have been the most informative session I attended all weekend, but it was certainly the most enjoyable! “Love Happens” was a panel discussion led by three couples, all of whom met at or through AG Bell. They told the adorable stories of how they met and how their shared interests and commitment to volunteer activities through AG Bell have strengthened their relationships through the years. One couple’s daughter became a Speech-Language Pathologist, and another couple has two deaf children of their own. The session was full of laughter — what a great way to wake up early on a Sunday morning!
Oh my goodness, where to begin? Convention has been AMAZING and I am learning great new things and meeting great new people every minute of every day! There are TONS of things to write about, but here’s a quick summary of the things I learned and did on Saturday:
Susan Lenihan, Ph.D. (Fontbonne University), Catherine Schroy, M.S., CCC-A (Central Institute for the Deaf), Christine Clark, M.A.Ed., C.E.D. (Central Institute for the Deaf), Mary Daniels, M.A.Ed. (St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf)
One of the most important things you can do for your child, deaf or not, is READ, READ, READ. Read to them, read with them, encourage them to read to themselves and to you. Set a good example by reading a lot yourself, and show them everyday situations where reading and literacy are part of a productive, enriched adult life. Reading can open worlds to your child, and it is a key skill for success in all other academic disciplines. Here are just a few of my favorite reading-related resources for parents:
You spend so much time and effort waiting for those first precious words… and now you can’t get your little listener to stop chatting! As important as it is to talk, talk, talk with your child and give them lots of good linguistic input, there are times (like a long boring wait at the doctor’s office, or standing in the checkout line at the grocery store) when some good quiet-time activities can come in handy. Here are a few quiet activities that I like because they also incorporate some great developmental skills… especially important because roughly 1/3 of children with hearing loss also have associated sensory processing, OT, or PT issues. These activities are designed to target multiple skills… but don’t tell that to your kids — they’ll just think they’re playing!
Music and singing are wonderful ways to make learning fun for any child, but for a child with hearing loss, the benefits of music are even greater. The changes in pitch and intonation in music can help children learn to experiment with their voice and articulators to develop even more natural prosody. Songs are also a large part of most preschool and kindergarten curricula, so music experiences in the home can help prepare children for experiences in the mainstream classroom.
There’s no need to break the bank when it comes to finding good sources of therapy ideas. The best lessons in speaking and listening can come from things you already have at home. In fact, I would argue that not only can you find good therapy resources at home, you should! Children need to learn that listening and speaking are not isolated events, confined a weekly therapy session, but part of living, communicating, and enjoying every day!