How to Cope With a Child's Hearing Loss
Disbelief. Fear. Powerless. Sad.
Those were just a few emotions you likely felt when your child was diagnosed with hearing loss. The flood of feelings was overwhelming and didn’t stop when you left the doctor’s office. You were thrown into a brand-new situation with no background knowledge and no roadmap. You felt confused, maybe even lost.
You asked yourself, “Now what?”
Your first impulse may be to jump right into getting answers to your child’s hearing loss. Hearing aids or Cochlear implants? Should my family learn sign language? Do we need a speech therapist? Those are certainly things to consider, but first you and your family need to process the diagnosis and set up support systems. After all, if you’re not taking care of yourselves, then you can’t be at your best to take care of your child’s needs.
There are thousands of parents who are available – eager, in fact – to help you navigate the emotional, social and medical journey of parenting a child with hearing loss. Fellow parents can offer insights on everything from coping to others’ reactions, to communicating with teachers, to find the right audiology specialists. There are many national organizations with local chapters designed to bring parents together, including:
Supporting the Whole Family
Two University of Kansas researchers concluded that, although service providers normally focus on the child with hearing loss, everyone in a family is affected by the diagnosis. If your child with hearing loss has siblings, it’s important to share what you learn with them and talk about how it will affect them and the family. If appropriate, you can include them in some decisions. Often siblings of children with hearing loss will feel neglected because of the attention the other child gets. While it will be challenging, try to be mindful of this. Your support groups will often lead to relationships with other families that can be beneficial to you and your children.
And a bit of good news! The University of Kansas researchers found that families of deaf children are better at problem-solving than families of hearing children.
Research shows that parents benefit from informal support from friends, neighbors and co-workers too. These relationships can be a source of strength, and these people can share encouragement during trying times, and joy in times of celebration.
Also, parents routinely say that having an adult with hearing loss as a role model in their lives greatly improve their outlook.
These adults can help with education, social and emotional development for children and demonstrate to parents that their children can grow up to live productive, successful and fulfilling lives.
By surrounding yourself with a strong support network, you can replace those initial feelings with …
Acceptance. Hope. Empowerment. Joy.
This information is provided by the Georgia-based Sounds Waves Pediatric Hearing Aid Program which provides children, ages birth to 19 years, with audiology services and hearing aid devices. The organization operates under the principle that no child should be denied hearing aids due to the inability to pay. Learn more or apply now.