Monday, February 20, 2017

Addressing Auditory Access Needs of School Age Children With Hearing Loss

It was rewarding to meet, network and learn from the Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss Conference in Orlando February 16- 18, 2017. The conference attendees came from different locations and backgrounds but all were challenged to become Zebra Experts! This included arriving at the conference wearing zebra shoes, sweaters, scarves, and more which was a great icebreaker and conversation starter.

In the keynote session, Karen L. Anderson, Ph.D., Director of Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss told us that, “When you hear hoof beats, they are usually horses and not zebras.” She explained that, 
• Hearing loss is not a disorder, like LD or language disorders 
• Hearing loss is not an attention disorder, like ADHD or ASD 
• Hearing loss is not a cognitive disorder, but academic delays and some functional classroom issues are common 
• Hearing loss can LOOK like every one of these issues.
Hearing Loss is not the same as other Special Education populations. Hearing loss is an ACCESS Issue creating barriers to learning in the typical classroom environment and impacting social interactions. One result is the cumulative learning gaps due to incidental learning/overhearing deficits. This invisible barrier is why it is necessary to consider functional performance in the classroom across situations. 

Karen shared the areas of learning most likely to be impacted by hearing loss: 
• Language processing issues due to fragmented hearing, vocabulary gaps, syntax, listening rate, etc. 
• Social language use (socially awkward due to delays in pragmatic language development) 
• Periodic inattention due to listening fatigue and gaps in understanding 

• Passive or immature skills in responding when they do not understand 
what was said (need for self-advocacy) 
• Understanding group discussions or participating in small group work due to distance/noise 

Karen reviewed many assessments, checklists, and tools available on her website. She reminded us to gather data and then to:
1. Talk about access – it is at the heart of developing zebra ‘issues’ 
2. Be prepared to list specific learning challenges typically caused by hearing loss
3. Be sensitive to effective practices and potential challenges with HL 
4. Be prepared to describe the unique skills you bring to the team
5. Be ready to address the potential result in outcomes if another professional without DHH training is providing needed services 
6. Advocate for the intensity of services needed for the child to close gaps and to prevent further gaps from developing or compounding
Are you a Zebra Expert? Please share your experiences on how you address ACCESS needs of children with HL in and/out of the school realm.

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