With Labor Day weekend here, it means back to school. For most parents, they begin worrying about which teacher their child was given, wondering if they have friends in their classes, and trying to figure out what they will do with all their spare time. BUT for parents of a child with hearing loss, the start of school is filled with angst about whether or not their child”s Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.) or Section 504 Plan is appropriate and if the school is set up to teach their child with hearing loss. Do they understand the impact of hearing on learning, do they know how to check the equipment? Do they know how to troubleshoot if something isn’t working? Do they know what preferential seating means for a child with hearing loss? Will they confuse my child’s impairment with behavioral problems? Will my child be thought to have limited intellectual ability?
Having all of these questions is normal and justified. There is a lot that the school team needs to understand in order to help your child reach his/her maximum potential. This begins right from the start of school by having an in-service for the entire team. The in-service should be led by someone who knows and understands hearing loss and how it impacts children in school. This can be a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, an educational audiologist, a speech-language pathologist with experience working with children with hearing loss, or even you, the parent.
So now, what needs to be included in the in-service? At the start of the year, teachers are anxious themselves. They are trying to get their classrooms ready, getting to know all 20-30 kids in their class and wondering how they are going to teach the new Common Core. With that in mind, you want to figure how to be comprehensive, while keeping it short and concise. You may even want to split the in-service into two sessions. One at the very start and then one a couple of weeks later, after the teacher has gotten to know your child and is more ready to understand the information specific to your child. The following topics should be included:
- Your child’s hearing loss and audiogram
- Your child’s equipment (hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems) and how to use it
- The listening check and who will do it
- How to trouble-shoot equipment issues and who will do it
- Classroom seating
- Accommodations on the IEP or 504 and what they mean
- Ways to improve classroom acoustics (i.e. hush ups/tennis balls, rugs, wall coverings, closing classroom door)
- Additional good teaching strategies that might not be within the accommodations (i.e not teaching with back to the board, not whispering, not speaking to quickly, teaching only when the class is quiet)
By ensuring that all of the above topics are discussed at the in-service, your child will be off to a great year. Look for future blog posts providing more specifics about some of these topics. Or feel free to contact me now through my ASK A QUESTION page with your questions. Have a great start to school!