As a parent of a deaf child, or one with hearing loss, you know that you want the best for them. Unfortunately, they may not actually get the best (of anything) unless you speak up. For optimal results, learning to advocate for your deaf child is a skill that should be learned early on in your child’s life.
What exactly is advocacy?
According to Merriam Webster, to advocate simply means to plead in favor of, or plead for the support for another individual or their cause. To advocate for your deaf child, then, means that you speak up on their behalf at home, at school, in the community, at work, or wherever their needs are not adequately being met.
Advocacy during the infant and toddler stages
If your child was born deaf, you likely found out through a newborn hearing screening. Or, if the deafness occurred as the result of a childhood illness or injury, they may have had a hearing test with an audiologist that proved the diagnosis.
Either way, learning to advocate for your deaf child in these early stages is important for their growth and development. Advocacy at this point can include:
- Getting the proper diagnosis – The type of treatment your child should receive depends directly on the diagnosis. Additionally, having a specific (and correct) diagnosis can open the door to local or national support groups or resources.
- Accessing the appropriate treatment – How your child’s hearing needs are treated during infancy or toddlerhood are critical for other areas of development, including language and learning.
How to advocate for your deaf child at school
The school environment can be extremely beneficial for children, but only if they have adequate access to resources that meet their individual needs. To successfully advocate for your deaf child, follow these helpful tips:
- Learn as much as you can about your child’s condition and what resources are available to you.
- Ask questions to your hearing healthcare provider, school administrators, teachers, and anyone else who regularly works with or treats your child. Ask what they are doing to help your child learn effectively, why they are using those methods, and if there is anything you can do at home to further the process.
- Develop meaningful relationships with school and health professionals, as well as other parents of deaf children. This will give you insight into how others cope with hearing problems and possibly open your eyes to new solutions and resources.
- Document your child’s progress, what was done and when, and make notes about what has worked well and what needs improvement.
- Keep calm and learn how to advocate for your deaf child in a confident, assertive, but polite manner to maximize the benefit for your child.
- Teach your child self-advocacy skills. These will be invaluable when your child reaches college age or even beyond, when it’s time to enter the workforce.
You don’t have to advocate for your deaf child alone.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in wanting your child to succeed in school and in life. From school teachers, other parents, and the audiologists here at Advanced Hearing Group, there are many individuals rooting for your child. Learning to advocate for your deaf child is a process and we’d love to help you all along the way. Simply contact us if you have questions about treatment, services, or additional resources. We’re in this together!
Source: Hear Well-Live Well Blog