Childhood Deafness in Mainstream Schools

Childhood Deafness in Mainstream Schools

Childhood Deafness in Mainstream SchoolsIf your deaf child is still a baby or toddler, you may feel that school is a long way off. You may feel confident that your child’s extra needs will be met through extra support throughout their education and expect getting support at school to be an easy ride, but you may be wrong. As the NDCS documents on a regular basis, getting the right levels of support for hearing impaired children in school can be a monumental chore for parents: filling out paperwork, making phone calls and pushing endlessly just to make the school understand the extra help your child needs.

Here’s some of the major concerns parents face for children with hearing loss, should you decide to enrol your child in a mainstream school:

Attitudes towards Deafness

Making a molehill out of a mountain… Especially if your child has mild or moderate deafness, there tends to be a widespread conception that the impact on the child is also mild or moderate. Similarly with severely or profoundly deaf children, there is a lack of understanding that the use of sign language and/or cochlear implants do not magically solve the issues that deaf children can face throughout their education.

Learning Disabilities – There can be a consensus within public schools that extra support is not needed for children with hearing loss that do not have any extra educational needs or learning difficulties. Currently only around 35% of children with hearing loss are reported to have other learning difficulties alongside their deafness, meaning those extra 65% of children can struggle to get extra support that they may need. Hearing loss can be regarded as a medical or physical problem that has effectively been resolved by the use of hearing aids/BAHAs/cochlear implants or even soundfield systems for childhood deafness in mainstream schools.

Social impacts

Children’s hearing loss can have a significant impact on social relationships and development, as deafness can impact on communication between your child and his/her peers as well as leading to misunderstandings during play time that can lead to struggles to keep up, isolation, lowered self esteem.

Educational impacts

Difficulties in communication can cause potential problems with assessment of learning ability in school, especially if one to one observations and assessments are carried out less regularly that general group observations and assessments that involve participation when in noisy environments.

Due to less incidental hearing than hearing children, deaf children are known to struggle more with vocabulary and especially with learning to read and write with a phonics based approach as sounds can be easily missed, even with a mild level hearing loss.

Getting Extra Support

Every parent of a child with hearing loss in public education is entitled to a designated teacher of the deaf. Your teacher of the deaf should liaise with your school to encourage any one to one support your child needs and help staff to understand the importance of consistent wear of hearing devices and how they work, to understand the impact that hearing loss can have socially and educationally on your child and also provide training on practical techniques to support your child’s hearing.

Reviewing all this information on potential problems your deaf child might face at school might seem terrifying – I have a little boy due to start school September 2017 and I know I’m terrified! But it’s important to remember that you are entitled to support, you just might need to push very, very hard for it and more importantly, make sure your little one is happy and supported at home to be all the more prepared to face the road ahead.