Parents of newborns with hearing loss

It is never easy for parents to be told that their newborn is hearing impaired. Most often, it is shocking news, even casting a shadow over what should be the most happy of moments. But the sooner the hearing loss is diagnosed, the better you can support and help the child.

When new parents learn that their child has a hearing loss they often feel a sense of loss. This was not what they imagined, and they immediately start worrying about the future. How will this hearing loss affect the child's speech and education? How will it affect the family? But it is important to remember that the child is the same as before the hearing test. The only change is the new way the parents perceive their child.

Different future

Of course the future will be different than previously expected, but this does not have to be all negative. When other children develop speech, so will the hearing impaired child, but it may be with the assistance of hearing aids or cochlear implants and professional guidance.

In areas where no help was available in the past for children with severe hearing loss, new technology can help. The challenges may instead be to determine the best course of education for the child who may be able to go to school with children with normal hearing. The child may feel different from the other children, and it is of great importance that the parents are well informed, so they can give their child the best possible support.

Acceptance builds confidence

At some point, the parents will need to answer questions, such as 'Why am I different?' A satisfactory answer is hard to find, in part because the underlying reason for the hearing loss may be unclear.

As the child gets a sense of being different from the other children, it is important that the parents have created a confidence building environment. The parents must accept their child's hearing loss at the earliest possible stage, so that the parents and their child can cope in a positive and confidence-building way.

Strong colours for kids

Children often like their hearing aids in strong colours, such as pink or red. Parents should support this choice.

A highly visible hearing aid makes a statement about the hearing impairment. Making the hearing loss visible to the world may lessen any sense of embarrassment or stigma by making it a natural part of the child’s identity. It will also make it easier to avoid misunderstandings.

David Luterman, professor emeritus of Emerson College i Boston, is the author of Children with Hearing Loss. A Family Guide, with advice for parents, siblings and other relatives on how to cope emotionally and in practical terms with hearing loss in young children.

Source: “Children with Hearing Loss: A Family Guide”, The Hearing Review

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