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The Elizabeth Foundation | Helping preschool deaf children and babies learn to listen and talk   The Elizabeth Foundation - Helping preschool deaf children and babies learn to listen and talk
   


Answers to common questions about deafness in children

I'm worried that my child doesn't hear well. What should I do?

Why is my child deaf?

Will my child be normal?

How can I communicate with my child?

How do I make a decision about which method to use?

I donít know where to start - is this normal?

When can a child be fitted with hearing aids?

What is a cochlear implant?

What will happen when my child starts school?

What help will I get with my deaf baby locally?

What benefit payments am I or my deaf child entitled to?

I'm worried that my child doesn't hear well. What should I do?

Parents are usually the first to notice that their baby does not appear to be responding to sound. Nowadays all newborn have their hearing tested at birth, but if for some reason you have doubts about the results of these tests at a later stage then trust your instincts and get your baby tested right away!

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Why is my child deaf?

In some cases, the cause (or etiology) of deafnessis easy to determine. Heredity, high fevers, illnesses such as meningitis, complications during pregnancy or childbirth are some other causes. In many other cases, the cause is more difficult to determine and may never be discovered. There may also be several other factors that contributed to the hearing loss. Perhaps there is no apparent reason for deafness. In such cases, the etiology is listed as unknown.

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Will my child be normal?

If by normal you mean "will my child run and play, go to school, learn to read, have friends, drive a car, have a job or career, get married?" the answer is almost certainly "yes." If it means, "will my child be exactly the same as a hearing child?" the answer is "no." There are differences between children with normal hearing and children who are deaf or hard or hearing. The primary difference is in the way they will learn to communicate.

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How can I communicate with my child?

There are lots of different methods of communication available to help your child learn to communicate. However, one unifying factor is that they all involve you, the parents. No matter which method of communication you choose, you are the main educator for your child and may need to learn some new skills. It will take time, energy and patience for you to learn them but with the right early intervention could prove to be the most rewarding thing you do! Deaf children who learn to communicate at an early age and who are included in family interactions have a good chance for success, both academically and personally. Learn all you can about all methods. This will help you decide which one is best for your family! No one method is right for every child. To learn about some of the different methods of communication see www.ncbegin.com)

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How do I make a decision about which method to use?

Making a decision on which path to go down for your child is a very difficult thing. What you must remember is that they are too young to make this decision themselves and will be relying on you to make the right choice for them. Making an informed choice is the best possible way forward, so spend time and effort getting as informed as you can.

The most important thing to do is to make a decision, rather than no decision at all. Deaf children need early language and communication intervention in order to succeed in Ďnormalí life. In making the choice for a method of communication, you must consider the amount of your childís loss and what suits your child and you as a family. Ask as many questions as you need to understand each of these factors. Talk with other parents and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each possible approach for your child and your family. Itís extremely important to make a choice, maintain interaction, and provide your child clear and consistent language input.
But remember, no decision is irreversible. You may feel some consolation from knowing that you can review decisions about communication methods and educational programmes each year, and add to them or adapt them. These decisions can be changed, as necessary, to provide your child with the best chance to reach their full potential

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I donít know where to start - is this normal?

Most deaf babies are born to hearing families with no history of deafness Ė and it is a shock to them all. A diagnosis of hearing loss brings emotions of fear, loss, panic and huge sadness and parents can sometime receive conflicting information from different professionals when a babyís hearing loss is first diagnosed. Once a reliable diagnosis is made, parents start learning about the many communication approaches available, about amplification options or cochlear implants, and about services and educational programmes available. It is a journey and the start of any new journey can be daunting, but donít be put off Ė the sooner you tackle this journey the better it will be for you and your child. It will feel frightening at times! Donít worry, you are normal.

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When can a child be fitted with hearing aids?

Most children with a sensorineural hearing loss are fitted with hearing aids right away. Only through ongoing and consistent testing can your childís audiologist help you find the best aids and the correct setting for your childís loss. Hearing aids do not cure a hearing loss. In most cases, children with hearing losses can learn to detect and discriminate the sounds of spoken language through hearing aids. This will help your child learn to communicate through speech and be aware of the sounds around him. If hearing aids have been recommended for your child, it is important that the aids are worn on a full-time basis, as soon as possible.

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What is a cochlear implant?

For the small group of deaf children who do not receive enough benefit from hearing aids, a cochlear implant may be recommended. You will need to work closely with your child's audiologist and teachers to find out whether or not your child is a candidate for this procedure. For more information about cochlear implants view our special papers

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What will happen when my child starts school?

Decisions regarding your childís educational placement, now and in the future, will depend upon many factors. Deaf children should be placed in school programmes depending upon the needs of the individual child. You, the parents, will play an active role in making decisions regarding your childís school programming and educational placement and the professionals working with you will give you support to do this.
Some children who are deaf are completely mainstreamed into school, usually after developing a language system. These children often require special support services so that they can benefit from their regular classroom settings such as a Learning Support Assistant. Some children who are deaf are placed in programmes with other deaf children because this is more appropriate for them, and which can be attached to a mainstream school in a Ďunití. Many deaf and hard of hearing children spend some of their day in classes with other deaf children, and some of their day with their hearing peers. The third option is for your child to go to a specialist school for the deaf.

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What help will I get with my deaf baby locally?

All children with special needs, who live in the UK, are eligible for FREE local authority support and guidance from day of diagnosis. Your child may begin receiving assistance from your local education agencies, even as an infant. No child is too young to receive needed services. Contact your local health authority and local education authority if this has not already been done and enquire about their programs and services to help you and your child. Most commonly a deaf child would be entitled to regular visits from a Teacher of the Deaf, regular appointments with an Audiologist, routine assessments from and Educational Psychologist and sessions with a Speech and Language Therapist.

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What benefit payments am I or my deaf child entitled to?

There are two types of routine benefits that you can claim if you have a child with special needs. The first is called a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which is available to all children with a disability. The second is the Invalid Carers Allowance which is available to parents or carers who have forgone their income in order to care for their child with special needs.

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