Transitions can be really hard for all of us..change is the unknown, then unforseen,the never been done before.. We might think we know what to expect,but often it is better or worse than we imagine. For children with hearing loss, transition can be very difficult.
There are many types of transitions kids go through. It is the end of a school year-that is a huge transition. Changing to all day daycare vs home or school is a big transition. Changing from home to camp to swim lessons are littler transitions,but still have impact. Children with hearing loss often need information broken down, repeated,and rephrased in learning new information in school. The same goes for talking about transitions. Without extra prep on your end, transitions can become quite scary.
What can we do to help ease the fears and worries that go with these transitions? It is really important that families and staff working with children who have hearing loss talk alot about upcoming transitions. Create visuals-have a calendar to count down the days. Have a calendar to show the new events-are swim lessons weekly, twice/week, will day care be daily, half a day, twice/week? The options are endless. Sometimes children with hearing loss don't understand the full message-they might think they are going to day care or swim one time and that that event is over. Having discussions, preplanning,and having visuals lessens the confusion.
Try to keep some routine and some comfortable parts of the old routine mixed into the new-maybe they will use their school backpack to go to daycare, maybe they will take a stuffed animal from home for nap time at day care, maybe they will always get picked up for swim lessons at the same time of day. Try to incorporate things that give your children comfort when you are planning transitions.
Most importantly, remember, you were young once, too. Slow down and try to picture the world from their eyes. What may seem silly or inconsequential to you might be the biggest fear of these little guys' lives-give them the attention and love you know they deserve. A hug and a smile go a long way!
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.