What works for your child…
What’s the right choice when choosing how your family will communicate with your deaf or hard of hearing child? What works for your child is what is right for your family.
When thinking about communication and whether or not what you’re doing is working, think about sex and drugs, religion, morals, troubling current events, etc. Your child is going to learn about these from SOMEONE. They will get curious and ask SOMEONE questions about all the things previously mentioned. Do you want that someone to be you or someone who has ill intentions? Do you want that someone to be you or someone whose values don’t align with your family values.
Communication is a two way street. Parents need to be able to ask questions, tell stories, and give guidance. Children should be able to ask questions, tell stories, and make requests. This is oftentimes a sticky subject. My intent is just to help you help your child.
How do you know if it’s working?
As my son learned more language and ways to communicate, his frustrations became less and less. Less frustration equals less tantrums. He was also able to ask me questions and gain information about things that worried him. My favorite part about communicating with him is all his silly, sassy stories. The older he gets, the more his personality grows. It’s fun to be able to talk about the future together. As a matter of fact, he recently told me he’s going to live with us forever. Hahaha
How do you gauge if what you are doing is right?
- Can your child tell you stories about what happened while you were away? Or are you left in the dark about anything you did not witness yourself?
- Can your child ask you questions about upcoming events to help ease their mind? Or are they left to wonder and possibly worry about the unknown?
- As a younger child, can your child tell you with ease that they want more food or to go outside to play? Or do they get frustrated and possibly have meltdowns for unknown reasons?
- Are you able to prepare your child for family trips? Or do they just end up at the airport and not know where they’re going?
- If you have hearing children, does your level of communication look similar for both your hearing and deaf child?
- Do you know your child’s favorites? Or do you just guess and hope you’re right?
- For your younger child, are you able to guide them through tasks? Or do you just do everything for them because it’s easier?
What do you do if it’s not working?
- Pivot! Raising a child never happens in a straight line. We are always having to make adjustments.
- Ask your local RDSPD what works best while your child is at school.
- Ask your local RDSPD for resources or additional testing.
- Start signing: If you are not a signing family, start taking some classes. See if visual access helps open up communication.
- Stop signing: I know this will make some people cringe (and I have had my own opinions as well), BUT hear me out. I’ve been in education for over 25 years. During that time, I have seen a few instances where the whole family would learn sign, but the deaf/hard of hearing child was not accepting it. In one particular situation, the child was getting angry and beginning to withdraw from his friends and family. If this is the case, don’t force it and try something new. Also with my own child, there are times he wants me to sign and times he doesn’t want me to sign. I try my best to respect his wishes.
- Use technology: Some kids benefit from having a communication board. Sometimes communication isn’t happening because a child isn’t speaking or signing. Communication Boards can be a huge asset if needed.
As I make decisions, I think about how I’m raising an adult in the workforce, a father who needs to take his child to the doctor, a man who may love to travel. What skills and information does he need to learn now in order to become a successful, happy, adventurous adult? I want to expose him to every option available (within reason) so that he can choose what works best later.
Is communication is happening in your home?
When communication happens at home, your child can feel safe in their home and in the world around them. When communication doesn’t happen at home, your child can feel like an outsider in their own family. When communication doesn’t happen your child will go to someone else to find their information. Over the years, I have been that “someone” to many deaf and hard of hearing students.
These are questions I have been asked over the years.
- Is this appropriate to…? Questions about appropriate behaviors in social settings, appropriate ways to talk with their crush, questions about how close or far you need to stand from someone.
- Questions about puberty and growing up. I have been asked about anything and everything you can imagine! Questions about body changes and why it’s doing what it’s doing to questions about how to pump gas or find an apartment.
- Questions about sex. Questions about gender, pregnancy, how it works.
- Questions about politics. Politics has been pretty heated lately. I get questions about this often.
These are situations that have happened to deaf or hard of hearing individuals over the years.
- Child was given dress clothes to wear. The child noticed people had been acting differently, but didn’t know what was happening. Later that day, the family walked into a funeral of a loved one.
- A child has had major surgery and didn’t know what was going on. (I will address this in a future blog about advocacy.)
- A sibling went off to college and our student didn’t know what happened.
- A child was being abused and didn’t know how to tell their parents. (I will address this in a few months.)
- A teen became pregnant and didn’t know what was going on until they got to school and asked.
- A child didn’t know who their family members were and thought the entire extended family was either a brother or sister.
- A child went to many doctor’s appointments because they had been ill. As the doctor and parent spoke, the child had no idea what was going on and could not ask for information later.
This is always a difficult topic to discuss. It’s sometimes hard to look inward to see if what we are doing is in the best interest of our child. Sometimes we need help.
Are there resources to help guide me?
Is communication happening in your family? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Do you want to meet families like your own? Texas Hands and Voices is a great resource! Check out their website! https://txhv.org/
Texas Hands and Voices is a non-profit whose entire mission is making sure families like yours are supported and empowered without bias. They want deaf and hard of hearing kids to be successful and know that looks different for each child.
They will be able to get you connected to area resources to help you. They also host events and retreats to help families across the state! I cannot speak highly enough about this organization!
Lindsay’s Language Lounge
Multiple meaning words are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings when used in a different context. Each of my blogs will have a different multiple meaning word and ways that you can incorporate its use in everyday conversations.
This month’s multiple meaning word is…JAM!
- Turn on your favorite 90’s Hip Hop (or whatever music your child finds annoying): “I used to jam out to this when I was younger!”
- While making toast for breakfast: “Would you like some jam on your toast?”
- While cleaning a room: “Can you jam this into your dresser? Does that mean you’re going to add sticky jelly into your dresser? NO! Just push really hard.”
- Pretend to hit your hand on something: “OUCH!! I just jammed my finger! Does that mean I have jelly on my finger? Can I spread jelly on toast with my finger? EWW! It means I hit my finger really hard and hurt it.”
- When stuck in traffic: “Wow, look at this traffic jam. Does that mean there’s jam on the road or does it mean all the cars are stuck in one spot?”
We’d Love to Hear From You…
We look forward to sharing information on topics that are of interest to you as well as relevant to the area of Deaf Education. Here is a link to get feedback on the topics you would like to be covered https://forms.gle/k68CSrARgbbXMsdV9.