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How Special Instructors Help Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

special instruction helps children with hearing loss

Happy Hearts provides special instruction for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. These early intervention services are provided at no charge in the state of Pennsylvania for qualifying children from birth to age three. Some hearing issues are diagnosed before a newborn leaves the hospital, while others may develop or be discovered months or years later. While it’s difficult to learn that your child has trouble hearing, special instructors are equipped to support you as you navigate decisions about your child’s amplification needs and communication goals.

What Does a Special Instructor Do?

Our Special Instructors and Speech and Language Pathologists have years of experience working specifically with young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. As certified Teachers of the Deaf, special instructors understand how hearing loss affects learning and are equipped with strategies to promote listening, language, and communication. They’re also equipped to use sign language if that’s a family’s desired communication choice.

These skilled professionals also work very closely with parents to provide and explain important information about their child’s condition. They help parents make difficult decisions about their child's amplification needs (such as cochlear implants, hearing aids, bone anchored devices and/or fm systems) as well as set realistic communication goals. They also assist families in navigating through the routines of everyday life when they care for a child who is deaf, hard of hearing or when the child’s spoken communication is delayed. As an expert in hearing challenges and the technology and resources available, they are skilled at teaching parents how to engage their child in everyday activities while working hard to achieve speech, language and auditory goals. The teacher works with families to guide them regarding language attainment, strategies to reach family goals, considerations when a child has a limited hearing ability, assistive technology and any resources that may be needed to further enhance the family’s capability to support their child. An ongoing relationship with the special instructor grows a family’s confidence in their abilities to meet the needs of their child.

Signs That Your Child May Have Hearing Loss

There are many causes of hearing loss, and the degrees of hearing loss can range from mild to profound. Hearing loss can be sensorineural (permanent) or conductive (temporary). Your ear is made up of three parts—the outer, the middle, and the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear, either of the auditory nerve or hair cells in the cochlea. A conductive hearing loss happens when sounds cannot get through the outer and middle ear. Some hearing loss could be a result of fluid in the ears (conductive loss) or malformation of the ear (microtia and atresia). If you suspect your child cannot hear as they should, it’s important that you talk to their doctor about scheduling a hearing test so the problem can be diagnosed and better understood.

The following signs may be cause for concern:

  • Newborn isn’t startled by loud, sudden sounds

  • Baby is not calmed by parents’ voices by three months old

  • Baby pulls repeatedly at ears or ears are always red

  • Child will not turn toward a sound by six months old

  • Child turns their head if they see someone, but not if their name is called

  • Child has not said their first word by one year old and does not make babbling sounds

  • Child will not respond to their name by one year old

  • Child’s behavior changes and they become frustrated or withdrawn

  • Child seems to hear some sounds but not others

  • Child is experiencing delays in language development

Special Instruction Can Help

Once a child has been diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing, a special instructor may be able to provide free assistance to children aged 0-3 through the Early Intervention program. Early Intervention helps children develop the skills they need to thrive throughout their lives, and trains and equips parents to be part of this important process.

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