Advocacy seems to be the word of the month at my school-my day job. My students are probably quite tired of hearing that word and seeing that sign. I am really hitting home now with this topic. What does advocacy mean to you?
It can have a lot of meanings to a lot of different people.We are working on how kids can advocate for themselves in regards to hearing loss. These students have so many adults in their lives-interpreters,classroom teachers, deaf and hard of hearing teachers,,speech pathologists, auditory therapists..the list goes on. They need to learn how to advocate and take of their OWN needs.
I have preschool students learn how to tell a teacher when their hearing aids or cochlear implants are not working. I have preschool students learn how to take out the ear molds and take out the batteries. I have older children aid in putting in their ear molds and putting in the batteries. I have children early on learn where it is "appropriate and helpful" for them to sit in different situations. I have students learn where to ask the interpreter to sit or stand.
I have students learn when they need an interpreter to ask a question of the teacher(perhaps in a noisy class time)vs when the student should go up to the teacher and ask a question alone(perhaps in a quiet work session). I believe if we don't teach them these skills early on,they can become too dependent on all the adults in their lives. They also can miss important information. The children with hearing loss are the ones who can tell the adults if their equipment is not right or if they can't see the interpreter.
It is hard and a scary concept,but please help me help your children. Start on Monday-ask them to take ownership of one thing-testing the FM each day, checking the battery, sitting in the right place. It will make you both feel wonderful!
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.