I just returned from attending the AGBell Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona. This has always been my favorite conference. Probably half the attendees are parents and the other half are professionals, all of whom support listening and spoken language for children and adults with hearing loss. Families and professionals attend meetings together, share information together, and learn together. I love presenting at these meetings because I enjoy sharing information with families and listening to families talk about their experiences with professionals. I learn a lot.
As professionals, we often get lost a little in our own area of expertise and forget to listen to other professionals and to families. I hear from families that they find themselves in the difficult position of being caught in between professionals who disagree about what their child needs. A therapist may feel that a child is not hearing well enough to develop spoken language and asks the parent to tell the audiologist to change the hearing aid settings. The audiologist may feel that he or she has done enough to set the hearing aids and that the problem is someone else’s. Some parents are concerned that their child is not making sufficient progress and hears from the professionals that “the child may not be ready to learn.” What is a parent to do?
What can we do as professionals to be a little more open to other points of view? If an auditory therapist asks me to change hearing aid settings, she is not telling me I am a bad audiologist. She is telling me that a child is not hearing as well as he needs to hear. If I get insulted and let my personal feelings get in the way, what does this say about me, and about my feelings for the child I am trying to help? If as an audiologist I say to a therapist, “I think the hearing aids are well set, and John does not seem to be making progress,” I am not saying the therapist is not doing a good job. I am just asking for assistance in getting a child where he needs to be.
When communication is good
When communication is good we all learn from each other and the kids get the best of all of us. When we are not listening carefully to others, we are not going to end up where we want to be. Somehow, at AGBell, people all seem to have their heads in the same place. We need to expand that kind of philosophy to all clinical (and maybe all life) settings.