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So your child has a hearing loss... what now?

After what will no doubt have been a lot of rather frightening tests, meetings with professionals who you didn't know existed and words that really have no meaning to you, you have come away with the understanding that your child can't hear as well as other children.

You may have heard words such as 'Moderate-severe', 'Unilateral', 'Profound', 'decibel' and many more, all of which have little to no meaning when you look at your child and want to know what the future will hold.

First and foremost, remember your child is still your child. He or she are the same child they were before you found out about the hearing loss, and they have the same needs that they had yesterday and will have tomorrow.

Over the next year or twenty there will be extra things that you will learn to do, and that he or she will learn to do. But right now, they still need you to talk to them, to sing to them, to involve him or her in your day whether they can hear you or not, because they are learning about their world through you; your face, your body language, your touch and your love.

Over the next few months there will be some challenges that you will deal with, and we have tried to put together a list of resources here that will help with these challenges.

Resources 

They are resources compiled by parents who have gone down that road already, or who are still on their journey, just a few steps ahead of you. We are all parents here who have children with a hearing loss; some of our kids are toddlers with all the added challenges that go with the terrible twos.

Some of our kids are heading off to college or university, and are learning to navigate their world on their own. Some of our kids have cochlear implants, some have hearing aids, some have neither. Some of our kids use New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) to communicate, some are completely oral, and some are both.

One of the things you will find out is that every child is different, every hearing loss is different and every family has different needs.

Advocacy and your role as a parent

Here comes the hard part

You are your child's advocate, you are the person who will go in to fight for them on every front. You will deal with Kindy, School, College and University, audiology, speech and language therapists and hearing aid fitters. You will be the one that pushes to ensure that your child gets all the things they need to succeed.

You will be the one who acts as 'Team Leader' between the many professionals that will be involved in your child's life over the next few years, and you will make sure they all hear each other and work together to meet your child's need. Why do you have to do this? Because there is no one in the world who knows your child better than you. There is no one more qualified to state what your child needs, and no one who understands everyday life with your child better.

You are the professional when it comes to your child, and no one has the right to treat you as any less. Go with your gut, follow your instincts and don't back down. There is nothing your child can't do with you at his back.

A note about 'Dr Google' and information on the internet

You will need to make decisions for your child that may seem frightening. There is an excess of information available on the internet on almost every topic known to man, and a few extras to boot. You will no doubt end up 'googling' many topics and trying to trawl your way through the rubbish to find something that has meaning for you, your family and your child. A word of advice on the joys of google, is to try and find out who wrote the article, who funded the article, and is the information provided backed up with unbiased, creditable research. It's hard and time consuming, but in this age of free websites and open forums, it is easy to be misled by those who seem to be professional and knowing.

In order to save a little time, we have compiled a resource library with topics that parents have asked us about, and we hope that there is something here to answer a few of your own questions.

We are always available to talk in person if you can't find what you need or if you need someone to run some ideas by or just have a chat to.

Call us on 0800 DEAFCHILD | (0800) 332 324 any time of day and one of our committee will be able to talk to you - we are all parents of a deaf or hard of hearing child or children.

We'd love to hear from you so please contact us.

Personal stories

Sharing personal stories on raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing are invaluable for other families. 

Our Blog

Read about Jack's Journey to cochlear implants, a diary type blog from a parent perspective.

Our Facebook page

https://facebook.com/nzfdc

You can also find a list of the Regional parent groups in the Parent section.

Deaf Kid Talkin'

A honest & humorous blog written by a wonderful young kiwi with her take on hearing loss, it provides insight for parents with younger children, of what lies ahead.

https://facebook.com/pages/DEAF-KID-Talkin/1456530507925254

Family Perspective articles

Read about the experiences of families in the United States, Hands and Voices has a wonderful library of 'Family Perspective' articles.

http://handsandvoices.org/articles/articles_index.html