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How do parents acquire help from the schools for their hearing impaired children?

When I look through the Facebook groups and other support groups I have joined for parents of hearing impaired kids, questions about how to acquire services within the school system can always be found; whether it is for an FM system, speech services or other accommodations. I guess in this sense, I have been very lucky to have general knowledge on how to navigate the system.

A little background, I have two hearing impaired children; one has a mild loss in one ear and a mild to moderate mixed hearing loss in the other ear. It was a late onset hearing loss (after age two), so speech and language development has been normal. My other child was born with bilateral microtia/atresia identified at birth. He has been added since he was four weeks old and enrolled in speech/language services since he was ten months old. This past year he had surgery for the Baha (Bone anchored hearing aid). We have had a personal FM system for our use since he was approximately one year of age. My husband and I would use at home and his daycare provider would also utilize.
I am an audiologist.

My oldest was identified at age three and aided shortly after. Due to the relatively mild degree of his hearing loss, hearing aids alone have been sufficient, thus far. However, every school year, we make his teachers aware of the hearing loss, the fact that he wears hearing aids and that he should be seated towards the front of the classroom so he can see and hear them more easily. He is currently in third grade and is excelling.

When my youngest turned three years we contacted the local public school to determine eligibility for pre-K services through the schools as he had aged out of services through early intervention (birth-three years old). A copy of his hearing tests and speech/language evaluations were submitted to the school for review. Due to the degree of loss and delayed speech/language he qualified for services and an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) was created. At this meeting was the pre-K teacher (in this case, she was also the hearing impaired teacher for the county), the speech/language pathologist (SLP), special education teacher and myself. It was determined, for that area (Tennessee), he would attend Pre-K three days a week and receive break-out sessions with the SLP each day. This particular pre-K program was specifically geared towards the hearing impaired. Half of the class was hearing impaired and the other half were carefully selected and screened “typically developing peers”, thus modeling proper speech and language skills. A soundfield FM system was used, meaning the teacher wore a microphone and speakers were strategically placed around the classroom. He did well. [I had mentioned previously that we had a personal FM system—it was very difficult to keep on the correct channel because of where it attached to his current hearing aid and where it sat on his head—we chose not to use at school, rather at home]. We then moved to Florida. Upon doing so we once again contacted the school we were zoned for and enrolled him in the Pre-K program. We went through the IEP process again. The Pre-K program at our present school is all-inclusive, meaning there are varying abilities of the children, not just hearing impaired. The Pre-K teacher already used a soundfield FM system, so we simply discussed ensuring his ability to see her during instruction time. The SLP would see him two times a week. He was with the same Pre-K teacher for two years. He showed progress in all areas.

My son is now five and had surgery for his Baha last summer and is in Kindergarten. He is now able to use his personal FM system we previously purchased more easily. I did an in-service with his teacher and the SLP. His teacher uses the FM during all class instruction time and then passes it on to the SLP when she pulls him out for his twice a week sessions. Both were instructed to still make sure he sees them as it ensures he is paying attention and is understanding.

I have relied on some of these Facebook pages for information on how to make sure I include all the necessary provisions to his IEP. I also have done my own internet searches. Some of the more helpful sites were as follows:

http://www.theiepadvocate.com/Helpful-Resources.html
http://www.cohandsandvoices.org/resources/coGuide/17_iepChecklist.htm
http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2005/050927/f050927a.htm
http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Hearing-Assistive-Technology-for-Children/
http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/idea/

I will admit, I have been very lucky in getting what my children have needed for school purposes; however that doesn’t mean I can stop. The only way to truly be an advocate for your child is to be/stay informed!

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Dr. Angela Schenk, Gardner Audiologist

Dr. Angela Schenk, Gardner Audiologist

Doctor of Audiology from A.T. Still University