August warm days are winding down into cooler and shorter days. Fall is in the air and it will be here before you know it . School supplies are filling the stores and the signs of school are everywhere you look. Time to get ready. Buying school supplies and new clothes is the fun part. Finding out who your child's teacher is and checking if anyone you know is in the same class is exciting. Thinking about telling your child's teacher about his/her hearing loss is overwhelming.
Thoughts enter your mind.. Should I NOT tell the teacher or should I tell? What if I tell the teacher and then the teacher predetermines that my child is dumb and sets low standards?What if I tell the teacher and the teacher decides that my child does not belong in the class? What if I tell the teacher and the teacher decides that she has already taught a child who is Deaf and compares my child to that one? What if I don't tell the teacher and my child doesn't know what is going on the first day of school?What if I don't tell the teacher and my child gets made fun of or yelled at for doing things wrong the first day of school?What if I don't tell my child's teacher and the teacher puts my child in front of a fan or near the door?
I am a mom-not of a child with hearing loss,but of two children who are hearing. Everyone has 'issues.' I have thought about telling my own children's teachers some things or waiting a while. I have always opted for being up front at the start. I believe the longer someone has time to think about and understand an issue,she can be more sensitive and come up with ways to handle it. If you tell your child's teacher right away, she can think about what hearing loss means and how it affects your child. She can think about how to best lay out the classroom and where to seat the child. If you have concerns, share them with the teacher. Tell the teacher straight up that you don't want your child prejudged.
Here are some suggestions that you can share with your child's teacher. YOU have to be your child's advocate.
1. My child has a hearing loss in one/two ears.
2. My child needs hearing aids or cochlear implant or no amplification.
3. My child uses an FM system.
4. My child has a sign language interpreter.
5. My child does not know sign language.
6. My child is not dumb.
7. My child should not sit near a fan/doorway/overwhead projector.
8. My child should sit with her bad ear next to the wall.
9. My child should needs a few reminders in the morning.
10. My child needs slower transitions.
There are many ideas you can share with the teacher. Try to make a short and sweet list upon first meeting. Join your child's deaf/hard of hearing teacher in an inservice if your child is in special ed. You are all on the same team-here to make your child's school year amazing! Best of luck.It'll go great.
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.