Kristy's post addresses working with students that have a hearing loss. Many SLP's (myself included) feel completely out of their comfort zone working with students with a hearing loss. Kristy gives some great tips and ideas to help you and those students feel more comfortable and be more successful!
Helping You Feel More Comfortable Working With Students With Hearing Loss
A speech-language pathologist’s caseload tends to be quite diverse when working in the clinical or educational setting. When approached with a student on your caseload who is Deaf or hard of hearing, what do you do? Not only what do you do, but what is your role as his or her SLP?
Going back to graduate school basics is a start… what is considered a moderate hearing loss? What are the differences between assistive technology between a conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss?
Reading the file is not necessarily enough. Pop quiz: Bilateral sensorineural acquired hearing loss. Ok, so we know ‘bilateral’ means both ears. We know that ‘acquired’ means after birth. But do we remember what reasons a person could have a bilateral sensorineural acquired hearing loss and what treatment options are available? Does the student have a cochlear implant? Hearing aid(s)? If so, what are you going to do about it?
All the questions start brewing. Now what? After reading through the old graduate books about unilateral vs. bilateral hearing loss, sensorineural vs. conductional hearing loss, cochlear implants vs. hearing aids, it’s time to help others! Yikes!
What I always tell teachers:
- Talk naturally
- Project your voice
- BUT don’t talk too slow
- AND definitely don’t talk too fast
- Face the student
- Do not obstruct your face when talking
- Consider the student’s seating arrangements
- Allow extra time for the student to process the information
- Think of a ‘buddy’ who can help student with items missed
- Consider providing the student (or their aide) with your notes so the student can pay attention more to you and less on note taking.
- Write on the board – using visuals carefully around the room
- Do “check-in’s” make sure student continues to understand you.
Think about the Noises you Never Thought of Before:
- Put pads on the bottom of chairs
- Think of the heating /ventilation systems that make noise
- Avoid noisy elements
- Be aware of speaking while passing out objects/papers, etc.
In your speech-language sessions:
- Consider fingerspelling or visual prompts when trying to teach phoneme placement and sounds. Or check out websites, such as http://www.cuedspeech.org/, for assistance with the appropriate visuals while teaching articulation.
- Ask the student to repeat back the directions more than you would normally do. Make sure the student is always on the same page. You have his (or her) individual attention that you can go at his (or her) speed now (compared to the speed of the classroom).
- Allow a little time for counseling (they need someone to vent to about the difficulties in class). Ask how classes are going. What areas are they struggling in? Turn it into some real-life problem solving tasks.
- Teach the word ADVOCATE on the first day! There’s so much they have to advocate for – so much more than their hearing peers. They may steer clear of asking for assistance or telling someone that their assistive technology (e.g. hearing aid or implant) needs batteries. They need these frequent pep talks to let them know it’s ok. Other students have other needs (eye glasses, OT or PT services, reading assistance, etc.) too.
- Collaborate! It’s not part of their session, but you as the professional need to collaborate with the team. Discuss what is successful and what is challenging for the student. It’s up to you to assist the student find success!
To download a handy handout from Kristy, Click here: Quick Facts on Hearing Loss