Though early intervention and adequate treatment are crucial steps to treating varying degrees of hearing loss in children, their success in children’s lives hinges on critical support systems in the form of family, friends, and a safe, engaged, and supportive environment at home and school. Informal and formal family support has been indelibly linked to success in treating hearing loss in children by fostering an environment in which children are supported while facing hearing impairment complications that can isolate or discourage them from participating in treatment and leading normal lives. Families that are engaged and prioritize their child’s hearing loss make more informed decisions with regards to treatment, create a better network of supportive peers, and have a higher rate of ensuring treatment is a long term success.
Fostering direct interaction and support from family to child is one-way families can help support children with varying degrees of hearing loss. Assisting in language development by participating in speech therapy, providing emotional support during the difficult or socially isolating complications, and consistent attention to children’s needs are a few examples of formal family support that can help with behavioral regulation, socialization, and encouragement towards the wearing of hearing aids, in which many children can feel embarrassed or singled out.
With over 90% of deaf or hard of hearing children born to hearing parents, the focus on direct parental engagement has become increasingly important, as parent to child communication is crucial for development and socialization, while simultaneously, often frustrating and difficult to achieve with this communication barrier.
Families can support their hearing-impaired children in indirect and informal ways as well. Creating a multidisciplinary support system of collaborative audiologists, psychologists, doctors, and treatment options, researching the proper and latest information regarding hearing loss in children, and seeking out the needed resources are important to fostering family engagement and a supportive environment. Studies show that families with deaf or hard of hearing children often report a lack of information, resources, and emotional support, hindering their ability to advocate for their child’s hearing health and discouraging them from seeking additional treatment resources. This is reflected in national statistics, as over 15 million of the hearing impaired will avoid treatment. Becoming an engaged family by researching the prevalent information and resources can be the most important decision you can make in treating your child’s hearing loss.
Receiving a hearing loss diagnosis can be an overwhelming and frightening experience for most parents, but understanding and overcoming the barriers to family support and engagement is critical to making sure your child leads a successful and healthy life. Learning about audiology, your child’s hearing impairment, the smart hearing aid options available and identifying resources and sources of peer support can break down barriers and stigma, reducing overwhelming problems into manageable aspects for both parent and child. When trying to make children feel positive and engaged with difficult and sometimes isolating aspects of their hearing loss treatment, positive outcomes are a result of an engaged and loving family.
If you have any questions about hearing aids, smart hearing aids or about your personal experience with hearing loss, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Hearing Partners of South Florida. We are happy to help!