Local school or a specialised school?
Many parents of hearing impaired children would prefer that their children attend the local school rather than a specialised school.
The local school may be preferable because the other pupils are from the local area. In most cases, this works out fine, but it requires cooperation between the family, audiologists and the school staff. Teachers, speech therapists and school nurses usually have limited experience with hearing impaired children. Cooperating with audiologists may provide the school staff with the necessary information and advice.
When choosing the best school for a hearing impaired child the parents should take a number of steps, such as:
- Visiting the school and observe a classroom situation
- Make sure technical aids, such as an FM or loop wire system is available
- Discuss the issues with the headmaster and teachers
- Gain a sense of the school’s policies and attitudes with respect to hearing impairment and special needs children
- Take a look at the classrooms. Do they have carpeting, curtains or materials promoting good acoustics
- Take note of the local environment, including outside noise intruding into the classroom
- Ask if the school has experience in meeting the needs of hearing impaired children, and, if so, how such children received support
Support from teachers and parents essential
Teachers need to be aware of the special needs of a hearing impaired child, who must be provided the best possible conditions to hear. It is of the utmost importance that the child never feels isolated from the other children. A sense of isolation has psychological and social consequences. Attention should also be paid to the child's language development which could be impeded if the child cannot communicate properly.
Throughout the school years the support of the parents are essential to the children, and part of their responsibility is to constantly monitor if the support the children receive in school is adequate.
To many parents the big question is, ‘Can my child be mainstreamed in school? Successful mainstreaming depends on a team approach and the availability of support services. It is important to remember that there is no one way to educate all children. An individualized plan should be developed with your child’s team of professionals.
Source: The League for the Hard of Hearing, January 2008