Debbie is 5 years old. She has been hard of hearing since she was born. She did auditory verbal therapy when she was very young and now goes to kindergarten at her neighborhood school.
Debbie has a little brother with normal hearing. Her parents have normal hearing, too. Read what her parents say about:
Finding out Debbie is hard of hearing
Making a decision about how to communicate
We weighed all our options and went to each of the schools for children with hearing loss in the city area. We decided that since Debbie has some hearing we were going to at least try to give her the chance of speaking. For us, it was an easy decision to use an auditory verbal (oral) approach. The choices that were available weren't choices; they just didn't fit for our goals and Debbie's needs and capabilities.
Who helped us
We had a supportive and unbiased audiologist, otolaryngologist (ENT), and Early Intervention (EI) provider, which really helped in the decision-making process. Because I know for many people, it sounds like their ENT says, "Oh, this is what you should be doing for your child," and they are not given choices. At that point, you're just desperate for information. You're clueless.
I think that's what parents need: first they need to be given the options, then they need to be shown it in actuality. For example, if we could be shown what to expect and what not to expect the first year and at different ages. Like, if they go AV (auditory verbal), they could be in kindergarten speaking. And if they go total, they'll be in a total communication school. They may not be able to communicate with our relatives and may not be able to communicate with anyone but me and the children in her school.
Getting ready for kindergarten
Debbie's teacher put a big sign language poster on display and when the class is working on the alphabet, she teaches them the sign language, even though Debbie herself does not use signs. Class is during the morning, and then Debbie is bused to an enrichment program after school. She uses an FM microphone in class that she's very comfortable with. We paid for the FM system. Debbie also uses an adjustable, programmable aid.
Working with teachers and others at school
Getting special services
At first, it was a battle with the insurance company to have her speech therapy covered. The claims people couldn't understand how speech therapy could help someone with hearing loss. The auditory verbal therapy costs $80 a session, and Debbie goes twice a week. After negotiating with my employer, the insurance company agreed to cover 80% of costs. Insurance was a key factor when we started looking for new jobs.
How Debbie feels about school
It helps if she's ready for noise, like if the teacher prepares her for a fire drill, so she can set herself up. We try to ask specific questions about school…you know, I can't say "How's your day?" or anything. I think that's probably with most kids. If I pick something specific, then she'll talk about it.
Debbie has a few friends. Sometimes she has trouble joining groups when they're doing activities, or starting conversations at school, although everyone understands her speech. I think it's because she can't hear everything that's going on, so that makes it harder to just jump in. Overall, she's a pretty social kid.
Problems with communication
Already, it seems like Debbie can decide whether she wants to listen or not. It's hard to tell if she's not hearing you or if she's not listening. It's very important to get her attention first before telling her to do something. Sometimes we use visual cues or talk louder, but usually we just treat her as a regular kid.
What we want for Debbie
We do worry about whether she will have difficulty finding a job once she's older and in college. We wonder whether being hearing impaired will be an issue. We do think some employers might feel it's definitely a point against her, but we also feel it is important for Debbie not to use her handicap as an excuse in the future. We refuse to consider her handicapped. We want her to be able to just do her thing and keep going.