Professionals in our Children's Lives:
What Parent's Expect
Audiologists, Pediatricians, E.N.T.'s, Early Interventionists, CO-HEAR Regional Coordinators, Speech Therapists, Itinerant teacher for the Deaf/HH, mainstream Educators, Educational Sign Language Interpreters, Self contained Teachers of the Deaf, public school specialists: Art, Music, and P.E. Teachers.....Feeling overwhelmed yet?
How do we know if the professionals in our children's lives are capable, educated, trained, up to date in their chosen fields of expertise? Do they respect our children, and us as parents? Do they understand the needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing?
This article will explore some of the expectations we as parents can and should expect from some of the professionals serving our children. It is by no means complete, but a good springboard in which to set your expectation level!
- Experience with amplification fitting of Infants and Children. Audiologists should be up to date on the latest technology for testing and fitting children. Not just the latest technology for selling hearing aids.
- Gives Unbiased information concerning communications options.
- Respects the choices families make
- Knows resources in the community for Early Intervention, parent to parent Support, Deaf Community access, funding.
- Is forthcoming on information about reconditioned aids, loaner aids, warranties available, trial periods on new hearing aids.
- Listens to the child and the parent. If a child tells you that something is not working, don't assume the child is too young to know and ignore them. When a parent tells you there is a problem don't dismiss their concerns.
- Is an advocate for acoustic issues for children in mainstream education.
ITINERANT TEACHERS FOR THE DEAF/HH:
- Expertise and education in Deaf/HH issues.
- To monitor Academic progress as it relates to hearing loss.
- To explain any audiological reports and how hearing loss may affect classroom performance
- To offer suggestions of strategies to be used in the classroom.
- Provide In-service training for classroom teacher and support staff
- To act as a liaison for school/parents/Audiologists etc.
- To do regular checks of hearing aid/FM equipment and arrange repairs of replacements if necessary
- Training to school personnel in the use of amplification systems (in conjunction with Audiologist)
- To preteach and/or review subject matter and vocabulary from class activities and themes as suggested by the classroom teacher
- Support in modification of curriculum and in providing supplementary materials when appropriate or necessary
- To encourage the development of self-advocacy, elf-esteem and peer relationships
- Provide direct instruction in auditory training, language and speech.
- To Encourage mainstream class to learn sign language, Deaf Culture, and tools for communicating with a Deaf or Hard of Hearing student.
The quality of services vary from professional to professional, from county to county, school district to school district. There are some wonderful professionals out in the communities that can serve as role models. As a parent, you can pursue a standard of excellence in assuring your own child's needs are met. Never give up. Expect the best. Our kids deserve it!
Why is it that the subject of doctors often draws a collective groan from so many parents of children with deafness or hearing loss? To give credit where it's due -- many doctors are deserving of the highest praise and can be credited with providing full and compassionate service from identification to support. But historically, many have been more a part of the problem than the solution, Common complaints include...
- Doctors that have no expertise in deafness, but feign some knowledge because they are the "Doctor."
- Doctors who are biased about communication methods and impose their beliefs on the family.
- Doctors who dismiss parents' concerns.
- Doctors who don't communicate directly with the child who is deaf or hard of hearing, expecting another family member to interpret.
Doctors are usually the first persons we turn to when we suspect our child isn't hearing normally. In the professional realm this is referred to as the "point of entry" into the system of early intervention. From here, a family should make the important connection to supports and services. How ironic that it is at this point where many doctors respond with a "let's wait and see" attitude. This dismissal wastes invaluable time for the child and demotes mom and dad to a subordinate role without honoring their expertise and instincts as a parent.
The first thing we want from doctors is respectful, sensitive acknowledgment of our concerns, and then an action plan. Let's add to that a willingness to admit that the buck might not stop with them along with the confidence to refer the family to hearing experts. "Let's get your baby tested...here's who to call" is the reaction of a competent, concerned physician. This step is so important that Colorado now has a Newborn Hearing Screening law to ensure that infants are identified at the earliest possible opportunity.
Beyond the early intervention stages, a family needs a different kind of support from the doctor and/or ENT. We need understanding of the broader issues -- our deaf or hard of hearing child is not just a body with a medical condition label. The best doctors are listening intently to see if the family is seeking interventions (i.e., amplification, surgery if appropriate, a cochlear implant), or if they are comfortable with deafness and just came in for a throat culture. Doctors who do not pre-suppose or impose a philosophy (of any kind) on a family are doing their patient the greatest favor. Providing the best medical care always starts with listening to, honoring and respecting the family's goals for their child.