When your child has unilateral hearing loss, it can sometimes feel like the resources and services out there in the deaf/hard of hearing world don’t exactly fit. Many people who grow up with unilateral hearing loss don’t even consider themselves hard of hearing. And yet some of it does fit – people with unilateral loss often struggle to hear in noisy situations, and this can have an impact on a child’s ability to learn in a loud classroom. Unilateral hearing loss also makes it difficult to localize where a sound is coming from. Some kids with unilateral hearing loss benefit from using a hearing aid or assistive listening device, while others do not use any hearing equipment. So how do parents figure out what their child needs?
These were some of the topics discussed at a recent Coffee Night hosted by BC Hands & Voices, where the focus was specifically on unilateral hearing loss. Six families attended (nine parents in total, along with a couple of beautiful babies!), and the group eagerly listened to our guest speaker, Lisa Cable. Lisa has a unilateral hearing loss and is also the parent of a hard of hearing child, so she was able to share from her own experiences growing up as well as from her perspective as a parent. There was such a rich exchange of information, as parents learned from Lisa and also from each other.
Many strategies were shared around safety, such as teaching our children to stop when they hear a vehicle, and figure out where the vehicle is and what direction it’s moving before continuing. Strategies that work well with teachers and friends were also discussed; for example, asking teachers to give our kids the benefit of the doubt that they may not have heard what was said, rather than assuming they are misbehaving or not listening to instructions. One of the key messages that emerged was the importance of attitude towards the hearing loss. When parents are open, positive and matter-of-fact, kids pick up on that and become comfortable with who they are.
The evening flew by – as the parents headed home, everyone expressed how much they appreciated the opportunity to get-together, and how helpful it was to talk with others who were experiencing something so similar. It seems there may be more “specialized” coffee nights in our future!