Once your child has had a complete audiological evaluation, the diagnosis will confirm or dismiss your suspicions regarding your child’s hearing. The evaluation may be completed in one visit or it may take several visits, depending on the age of your child and the tests required to obtain a complete picture of his or her hearing.
If it is determined that your child has a hearing loss, you will be told of the type of hearing loss (conductive, sensorineural, or mixed), the degree of hearing loss (mild to profound) and whether the loss affects one or both ears. (See Types of Hearing Loss) A prognosis describing the expected change in the hearing loss over time may also be provided. Your audiologist or physician should gladly supplement the above information by providing you with facts about hearing loss. Further discussion should focus on essential information which will assist you in deciding the best course of action in order to increase your child’s quality of life.
Even though you may have suspected that your child had a hearing problem, confirmation of this fact typically comes as a shock. It can be overwhelming for a parent, some of whom blame themselves and experience feeling of loss, anger and despair. These reactions are quite normal. You may need a certain amount of healing and acceptance to prepare for the times ahead.
Remember that many of these emotions may arise from unanswered questions and misunderstandings, such as “will my child ever speak normally” or “will my child’s life be hampered in any way by the hearing loss?” Conversations with knowledgeable professionals who can provide answers to these questions and available solutions can be a source of great comfort. Remember that there are vast resources available to you and your child.
You are Part of Your Child’s Support Team
A hearing impaired child has no concept of “handicap” unless he or she is made to feel that way. The impressions that you, your family and friends have about hearing impairment can greatly influence your child’s self-esteem and confidence. Your efforts should include: remaining well informed about hearing loss and hearing aid technology; learning how to partnership with your child’s school and teachers to ensure the best learning environment for your child’s academic, speech and language success; and, last but not least, encouraging and helping your child to maintain a healthy and positive perspective by your example.
Some of the people you can speak to about your child’s hearing loss include your audiologist, physician, other parents or educators, and even other hearing impaired individuals who were diagnosed with hearing loss in childhood. Ask your hearing healthcare professional to direct you to organizations for hearing impaired people in your area.
There will be a “team” working to help your child get the best possible start in life. This team is made up of you, your audiologist, the speech/language pathologist and the school support team. As a parent, you are the head of this team.
The following list of suggestions may help you in this role:
- Trust your instincts – you are the one who knows your child best
- Become informed – the more you know about hearing loss and the help available, the better you will be in getting that help
- Expand the support team – in addition to your child’s teachers and hearing healthcare professionals, enlist the aid of organizations, publications, etc.
- Take care of yourself – the special needs of a hearing impaired child can take their toll on you
- Take it one step at a time – be realistic in your expectations