Signs of hearing problems include: turning the ear toward the noise, favoring one ear over another, lack of follow through with directions or instructions, seeming distracted and or confused. Children with hearing loss often ask for repeated information and will sometimes mispronounce words. Children having frequent earaches or sinus infections are often susceptible.
What can you do when you're working with children with hearing impairments or hearing loss?
- Make sure the child can see your lips and facial expressions when you are talking. Never talk with your back turned to the student.
- Speak naturally and not too loudly if the child wears a hearing aid.
- Try not to move around too much when you are speaking, if you have to move about, be sure to try and face the child as much as possible.
- Do not overuse hand gestures. Children do not like to be treated differently.
- Always ensure that directions, assignments, instructions are understood before the child begins working.
- Ask the child to repeat instructions and directions back to you, rather than ask if he/she understands.
- Use visual aids when appropriate. Write lists on the board or paper, ask the child to take notes.
- If appropriate, teach some sign language to the class.
- Maintain close contact with the professionals that may be involved.
- Always speak from a well lit area to enable the child to see your face.
- Use as many audio/video components as is possible in your program.
- Reduce extraneous noise whenever possible.
- Always ask yourself how you can make the lesson or activity more visual.
A Word on Hearing Aids
If the child wears a hearing aid, be aware that the the hearing aid amplifies ALL sounds and doesn't differentiate between wanted and unwanted sounds. Background noise can defeat the purpose of the hearing aid, it's important to eliminate background noise as much as possible to enable the child to receive maximum benefits from the hearing aid.
Hearing loss or impairment does not affect a child's intelligence. Like most exceptionalities, if caught early, intervention strategies can be implemented and the hearing impaired student will meet with success!