If I asked you to quickly tell me who was in this picture, I bet you could easily rattle off, "Robin, Batman, The Penguin and the Joker." You have perhaps seen the movies, the TV shows,the comics, the advertisements... somehow, we all know who these superheros and super villains are.
Children with hearing loss don't have it so easy. If a commercial comes on to the TV for a movie preview,it is loud and fast and often the children can't understand the words. The child might be able to look at the picture and notice who the good guy is and who the villain is..Oh,wait, would the child with hearing loss even know the word villain? Probably not!
90 percent of what we learn is from incidental learning-we "overhear" things at the dinner table, at the cafeteria table, on the playground, in the movies, in line at the grocery,etc. Children with hearing loss don't have this advantage. It takes many times for us to hear something and map it into our brains. Children with hearing overhear the same phrase or the same thought presented differently many ways,so it becomes second hand for them. Children with hearing loss either mishear the words or don't hear them at all.
All children, hearing or not, love to have repetitive books read to them. That is why the little books are created as such, "Brown Bear, Brown, Bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. Red bird, red bird, what do you see?"etc. Children love to hear and play with language and feel confident that they have the patterns down. This is extra important for children with hearing loss. Take time to sit with your child nightly. Read to him/her-either in sign or spoken language. If you don't sign fluently, just sign a few words per page. The point is to expose children to everything. Call a cardinal a cardinal, not just a bird. Tell the children the difference between a jaguar and a panther.
If this is too overwhelming and you are confused, contact someone who can help. Our goal is to reach out and support you so you can help your child reach his/her potential. What are you waiting for?Go grab a book and cuddle up with your wee one!
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.