This is a terrible time for everyone trying to managing during this crisis. But, what can we do to help kids with hearing loss manage?
Issue 1 – understanding when people are wearing masks
A friend of mine with severe hearing loss posted that she is having a difficult time managing because everyone is wearing masks. She needs to lipread in order to understand. Many of us benefit from seeing the speakers face. This is a really serious because it interferes with all social interaction which is critical for What are the possibilities?
- Ask people to please text to you if you need the information
- Use phone so you can get captions – store people might not want to do this
- Ask someone who is willing, to remove their mask for a minute and stand back
- Have a friend with you who will either text the info or remove his mask
- Remember, even if a child has great listening skills, the mask may distort some of the speech signal
- Additional suggestions? Please let us know.
Issue 2 – school work
Schools are doing distance learning now. How should we manage? Some schools are sending home work for kids to do at home and to send in. They are not having face to face meetings. Children with hearing loss will be the same as for children with typical hearing. (In my view this is a problem because there is no one to ask questions of if you don’t understand.)
Some schools are having a meeting on zoom so kids can have a sense of community and some teaching is happening on the zoom link (or some other link). Hopefully, the IEP or 504 plans require captioning for movies etc. If they do, parents need to contact the school and remind them to caption everything that is being transmitted. If captions are not available, a parent needs to be seated at the child’s side to repeat what is said.
If the IEP does not include captioning, this is the time to get to that to change. School staff will be nuts at this time but they need to fix the problem.
Issue 3 – arranging distance social visits
Social contact is critical for emotional support. It is important that children have contact with other children. We obviously cannot and should not have play dates, but we can still arrange Skype, Zoom, Facetime or something else so that kids can see each other and have a visit.
Some people are playing games on the internet. Both people need to have the game (checkers, chess, chutes and ladders etc.) and have them set up in front of the computer. Then when one makes a move the other person has to make the same move on their board. It takes a little getting used to but it works well once you have it down.
Issue 4 – getting therapy
Therapy needs to continue during this difficult time. Tele-therapy is a good way to do therapy. Many clinicians have been doing teletherapy for years so this will make no difference for them. For those clinicians who have not done this before, Hearing First has several tele-therapy courses that they are making available.
Todd Houston has a text book Tele-Practice in Speech-Language Pathology. Emma Rushbrook has a text book Tele-Practice in Audiology. Both are published by Plural. The point is, therapy is essential and needs to continue. Figure it out.
Issue 5 – music lessons, etc
Fun things like guitar and piano lessons, can be done through tele-therapy and they should be schedule. Sports cannot be done in groups. This may be the time to start running. Religious school can also be done remotely. Just do whatever is possible.
This is a difficult time but we can, and should, do what we can to make sure that kids continue to do what needs to be done – friend contacts, music lessons (you see my priorities here), exercise etc. I know this will be difficult for parents who actually have work of their own to do. Yes, this is hard, but getting it done It will keep everyone sane.
Stay safe everyone.