27 June 2019
By: Shefali Shah
Experiencing Sound for the first time can be overwhelming. Device-activation (or switch-on) of cochlear-implanted children always reminds me of this.
In being connected to Sound for the first time, babies or young children with hearing impairment experience a transformation that they cannot describe, by virtue of being children. They do not as yet have the verbal language or emotional maturity to describe what they feel. More importantly, they are little people and little people need time and space to process this completely new auditory experience.
Yet as adults and as their caregivers we desperately look for constant validation that our child is actually hearing. Be gentle on yourself and your deaf child.
Here are 3 tips to help you put this event in perspective.
1.Trust your child is listening!
While the little recipient is adjusting to this life-changing event, everyone around is evaluating this first listening experience. Instead, trust that your child is listening and enjoy it.
Imagine not having a frame of reference. How would you rate a new experience, if you had nothing to relate it to? You may smile but you may equally well still and just stay quiet, as you absorb this new experience, digest it and perhaps ask yourself ‘Really, was that Sound?’. This in no way makes the first reaction qualitatively better than the second.
2. Reason lends meaning!
Human nature is intriguing: even when we get the best, we often question it. “Gosh! Could this be for real?” Doubt fuels the need to keep testing. Families who truly believe that their baby or young child with hearing loss is now listening, have admitted that even they have on occasion succumbed to deliberately calling out to their child just to check that he or she is really still listening.
Sound is important because it has meaning. The brains of babies and young children connect sounds to their source instantly, drawing pleasure, purpose and meaning from the association. Call out to your baby or young child for a reason: It’s bedtime; It’s time to play; It’s time for a story; It’s time to go home; It’s time for my hug! It is the reason for the sound, that makes it interesting and meaningful or dangerous and full of warning.
3. Listening is addictive!
Listening is addictive and so it should be! The more babies and young children with hearing impairment listen, the more they want to listen…and in doing so, the more they learn! Provide your baby or young child with abundant and meaningful listening opportunities, guide his or her understanding and learning will follow as a natural progression. The more your baby learns, the more he or she wants to share.
What better vehicle to share than to imitate what he or she has heard…and so to talk!