A note about this article- I’m writing this as a parent, this is just my experience and what’s helped us. It’s not an official Hands & Voices tool. It’s just a template I created because I thought it might be helpful to others.
Our child is 9 now and we’re deep into elementary school. He attends several extra curricular activities including karate, piano and scouts. Additional to the people who work with him in these activities are, his classroom teacher, Teacher of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Speech Language Pathologist and educational tutors. Phew! That’s a lot of people!
Perhaps your child is younger, so your team may also include Early Interventionists, Audiologists, Occupational Therapists and other medical doctors. Now matter how many people you have on your team, they all share the same goal- helping your child. And all of these people can benefit from knowing how best serve them, how to best help them learn, or even how to best get them to participate in a hearing test. And you are the best voice for your child! You know them best! 🙂
Sharing important information about our children is, of course, necessary. I have a binder full of important assessments, audiograms and relevant medical reports that I share with new support workers or teachers but sometimes, handing out ALL the information is just too much and doesn’t work in our favour. Sometimes simple is best.
I made up a single page hand-out about our son that really highlights the important information for those new to working him. I included a picture of him, my partner and I’s contact information, and four main subheadings.
The feedback I’ve received has been very positive! People appreciate the conciseness of the document and that relevant information is easy to pull out and use. I try to keep copies on hand for any meetings/ beginning of the activity sessions as well as emailing it as a PDF when I am able/ have the person’s email address.
Link to viewable google doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ch1JJeLIHCuA5a-_4kkQ1EnmyHEZImlupm1lOdt-D8Q/edit?usp=sharing
To edit, be sure to save a copy to your own google drive first.
Here are the four subheadings explained:
- Bullet points about your child’s personality
- What motivates & excites him/ her
- What makes them anxious and how to help in these moments.
- Brief suggestions on how to encourage the best in your child
EQUIPMENT (if applicable)
- What and how to help with your child’s hearing & communication equipment
- Include details about FM system here
INSIDE THE CLASSROOM
- Brief comments about to best support your child inside the classroom. (seating placement for example)
- Any information about ASL interpreters and what they need to be able to give your child the best possible access.
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
- Comment here about what an outside environment might be like for your child. FM limitations, background noise, etc.
- Information about outside time and interpreters
- What specifically does the caregiver/ educator need to be aware of?
-Be sure to include a picture! Both for attention (they’re beautiful) and also to help the support person remember who your child is. Some people have many DHH kids on their caseloads.
-try your very best to keep it to one side, one page. Play with the font sizing if you need more room. I feel it’s the best chance to have anyone read it all.
I hope this template helps! I created it with google docs and the columns work best in google docs, though I’m sure you could edit with any version of MS Office or equivalent. Please feel free to share it too.