We know how important it is provide support services to children with hearing loss in school. It is just as important to provide support with after school activities. There are several things do consider.
Does the child know all the words associated with the activity? Don’t assume. In sports activities think about all the words that might come up – ball, net, goal, scoring, outfield, bases, catcher, pitcher, 3rd baseman, umpire etc. Are there parts of the sports uniform that have special names (cleats, knee pads, mit)? How about names for different plays and rules of the game?
How about ballet class? Find out in advance what the names of the positions the child will be learning, (barre, first position, 2nd position, plie, point your toes) parts of the dance costume (tutu) etc.
There may be some new vocabulary for religious instruction. That would also be helpful.
It would be helpful if the child knows all the vocabulary before starting in the program.
Make a list of the words in advance and plan for preteaching all the vocabulary and concepts. Make a game out of it and go through them.
Noise and distance
If possible, check out the place the activity will take place. Will it be noisy? Noise is always a problem for people with hearing loss. At the end of a school day when a child has been attending and listening all day, we can expect them to be tired which will make it even more difficult for them to listen in noise. Is there anything that can be done to reduce the noise? For example, ask the ballet teacher to keep music low.
Distance is also a problem for children with hearing loss. In the classroom we use remote microphone systems to give children access to speakers that are at a distance. They should also be used in afterschool programs. A child with hearing loss is likely to have trouble hearing at a distance so we want to do everything we can to help. If the coach or teacher wears the remote microphone, the child will be able to hear directions which will improve the experience
Helping the leader do their job
What do the coaches, teachers, etc. need to know to help make the child’s experience a success? They need to understand hearing loss and know how it will affect the child’s experience. Help them understand the effect of noise and distance. Help them understand what the child’s language level is and what they can do to help the child learn. Remind them that it will help if the child is able to see the leaders face, especially when giving instructions. If your child will advocate for themselves and tell the leader that they the directions are not clear that is terrific. However, it is not unusual for children to be uncomfortable asking for clarification. Give the leader a few suggestions to be sure they know if the child is following the activity. Check in with the leader periodically to see if they can identify any issues for which you might be able to make a suggestion.
This is a developing process. Do not expect to solve everything on day 1. New terms and vocabulary will come up during the course of the program. As the children become more comfortable they will be more willing to ask for help. After school activities are just as important as classroom activities. They expand general knowledge and socialization skills. We all just need to pay attention and make sure we are providing all the help a child needs.