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Teaching children with deafness issues

(28 Posts)
MummyTeacher Wed 20-Jul-11 18:21:41

Beginning to panic about my class next year!
I'll have 15 boys and 4 girls, in a mixed Y1/Y2 class. shock
I have just been told 3 of the boys have hearing loss to varying degrees (One has only 30% hearing in one ear and nothing in the other, the other two have glue ear, but possibly other issues too)
I've taught for nearly 10 years, but never had a deaf child in my class before.

Can anyone give me some pointers about teaching children with hearing issues?

My DS was/is deaf - cholesteatoma and other issues, he has ver little hearing on his right side and partial on his left. He qualifies as severe hearing loss.

Best advice - keep the kids facing you (they will lip read to an extent), front of the class and try to keep extraneous noise to a minimum - ie he found it hard in a noisy classroom. If they have a "good" ear, keep that ear towards you.

Also, give them time to answer - because of his degree of hearing loss it affected his language processing skills and he was slower to formulate the language to answer a question than a child with normal hearing.

Be patient with them when they are trying to answer.

Oh and spellings - be aware that because of the hearing loss they may not be able to "hear" the difference in some sounds - ie with DS it was Sh and S - he was so deaf for so long that he cannot hear a difference in those sounds (as explained by SALT) so he found those spellings with Sh and S sounds impossible to differentiate.

If I think of any more I'll come back!

VERY not ver

blush

Sparkletastic Wed 20-Jul-11 18:30:12

I'm not sure if I'm who you need but I have a 5 year old hearing impaired child (and we tend to use that rather than deaf round these parts). Do the boys wear hearing aids? If so and if you are an LEA school you can get help from the Service for Children with Sensory Impairments BUT what with cuts this might not be offered where you are. The main issues are:

being careful about positioning so boys can clearly see your face
speak carefully and distinctly
use visual aids / Makaton wherever possible
try to address background noise when good concentration is needed
have quiet zones for refuge / focussed work
CDs through earphones are good for playing music but not listening to speech for children wearing aids
be aware that they may have less stamina and feel more overwrought on occasions
get a bluddy good TA to help

Has the hearing impaired boy got a Statement? Have the glue ear boys got grommits? Work closely with your SENCO to manage health info etc.

MummyTeacher Wed 20-Jul-11 18:30:59

Thank you for that advice rosie. Really helpful.
I'd thought about keeping them front and central, but keeping the room noise down might be quite hard (with that many boys and 2 on the ASD spectrum too!)

Sparkletastic Wed 20-Jul-11 18:31:44

Oh yes what fuckme wink said.... and don't have them first in a group exercise - they need to settle into task and follow cues from other pupils.

Actually, what Sparkle said too - they may get frustrated and emotional at times because it's just harder for them to deal with - cut them some slack when they do (please)

Remember as well though, and this is my personal rant, that they still have A-bilities - it's not all about the DIS-ability (I had to fight to get an ordinary school to take DS and was being pushed to put him into a unit for hearing impaired but I didn't want him to be defined by what he couldn't do iyswim?)

Also, his school were able to get advice from the teacher from a Teacher for the Hearing Impaired - maybe you could do that?

Sparkletastic Wed 20-Jul-11 18:35:01

Noise levels are hard but I have to say the kids in DD's class have been brilliant when they have been reminded about needing to help each other with listening. DD hasn't been singled out too much but her teacher doesn't shy away from talking about her hearing aids to the others so they understand how they work and she has cult status as a friend as a result grin

MummyTeacher Wed 20-Jul-11 18:35:25

Sorry about the "deaf" thing. Hearing impaired, of course, is correct. See how out of the loop I am?! grin blush

The hearing impaired boy should have aids by September. Will it take time for him to get used to them? We'll have to try and push for a statement I think.
One of the glue ear boys has grommits.
I'll have one TA, and the statemented ASD boy has an INA in the mornings, so in-class support is a bit thin on the ground.

Beamur Wed 20-Jul-11 18:36:04

I was that kid.
My deafness is mostly in one ear and was not picked up until I was about 8. When it was, I found that if I sat on the side of the room that meant my 'good' ear was towards the teacher and sat towards the front my grades suddenly went up!
All good tips from above - bit more thinking time needed and certain sounds harder than others to hear. Background noise really doesn't help and if the deafness is different in each ear they may have trouble tracing the direction of the sound.
I also find - even now, it really helps for someone to make sure they have my attention before speaking to me.
I have trouble differentiating the difference between 's' and 'th' and still cannot pronounce them clearly.

Oh I thought of some more grin

Kids with glue ear - swimming might be a problem - find that out before the kids get all gung-ho about going to the pool

And contact around the skull area might be a problem - DS has compromised skull integrity as a result of his surgeries so he had to be careful in playground games

Hope this helps and I don't sound too nagging wink most of it is common sense

MummyTeacher Wed 20-Jul-11 18:37:33

Our SENCO is only in one day a week, but I'll certainly see what support we can get from outside agencies.

And another thing grin

The glue ear kids might be off more than a normal youngster because of ear infections so you might want to watch out for that.

Also, watch out for bullying because of speech delay/impediments - DS was badly bullied. Kids with hearing impairment can be withdrawn and uncommunicative and it takes a bit more to draw out of them what's going on at times

Sparkle grin - that's lovely about your DD being a "cult" friend. DS can't have hearing aids unfortunately, because of the type of hearing loss he has but he's a bloomin good lipreader wink

Sparkletastic Wed 20-Jul-11 18:45:10

Yes do - DD's teacher for hearing impaired children visits every half term and is a god-send - very supportive when we were getting her Statement too.

Hearing aids do take time for them to adjust to - or if the aids change from closed to open moulds. At first the child may use their voice more or make repetitive sounds (hissing from DD as her upper range was impaired!). They may feel exhausted and overwhelmed after a few hours. Keep in close touch with parents and professionals about whether they want the child to keep the aids in for the whole school day or remove them if getting too much. Get a lesson from someone on changing batteries / checking the aids as unlikely that the boy will be able to manage this himself at first.

It honestly won't be nearly as tough as you imagine and if you get the basics right you will make such a difference to those boys. DD has flourished with her lovely teacher.

Sparkletastic Wed 20-Jul-11 18:47:21

Yes fuckme - so pleased that she has lots of friends. Has your DS had an implant or is he just getting by and adjusting? DD does get teased sometimes by older children about her 'babyish' speech but the school has zero tolerance for it praise be so I don't have to charge in and make a fuss!!

zorgmoid Wed 20-Jul-11 18:51:18

Mummyteacher - as a parent of a HI child, what I'd want from a teacher is in the first few days of term for them to ask me what strategies I use to make sure DS can hear me. That would have the two advantages of reassuring the parents that you were aware of the problem and would be helping the child overcome their difficulties, and the mum/dad may have some good tips for distinguishing between HI child not hearing and HI child not listening smile

He's not eligible for an implant because he's not profoundly deaf and has some degree of hearing.

He is almost 20 and is at uni doing medicine so I reckon he copes not too bad grin

Oh and he competes in a sport at international junior and uni levels grin <<proud mummy emoticon>>

Sparkletastic Wed 20-Jul-11 19:01:24

wow good for DS - what a star!!

I don't normally talk about him because he's an adult and it's not up to me iyswim, but I think it's important to remember that these kids might be deaf/hearing impaired, but they also have A-bilities - sometimes that gets forgotten because everyone focusses on what they can't do, rather than what they can

BrigitBigKnickers Wed 20-Jul-11 19:28:47

Hi- I am a teacher of the deaf. Feel free to PM me if you think it might help.

Here are a few pointers we give to our mainstream teachers (I work in an enhanced provision attached to a mainstream school.)

Positioning is important- do not talk to the children with a light/ window behind you- it makes it harder to lip read.

Do not move around the class while talking for the same reason.

If hearing aids whistle it's because they are not inserted properly into the ears.

If your pupils have radio aid systems make sure you mute them when you are talking to other groups of children or when you go to the loo! grin Encourage HI pupils to tell you politely, if you have forgotten to switch it on and be aware that jewellery round your neck may rub against the transmitter and make annoying sounds in their hearing aids.

Try to make sure the rest of the class keep quiet while you are teaching- tapping pencils and scraping chairs can be very distracting.

Do not sit the child under the smart board projector- some hearing aids are set up to cut out continuous background noise and this results in the hearing aid cutting in and out.

Talk to the child about their hearing loss ask them about what they find useful or difficult- encourage them to tell you when they are finding it hard to hear.

Be aware that sometimes what appears to be simple vocabulary might totally confuse them. (One of my pupils did not know what a pillow was last week,).

Idioms are baffling- raining cats and dogs, pull your socks up, that made my skin crawl, where's the fire etc.

They may have difficuilty with grammar (particularly word endings as these are fleeting on the lips and hard to hear so past tenses,plural endings and small words such as is at to might be ommited from both their speech and their writing.)

Some questions need rephrasing- e.g. how many more is x than y often causes confusion as they might know the word "more" as add.

Visual clues are very important.

We have circle of friends type groups (we call them chat clubs) for some of our pupils which helps the both HI children to understand the rules of conversation and hearing children to understand the difficulties facing their deaf friends so they are included in playground games and group work activities in class.

Some simple finger spelling or BSL might be useful (not makaton- that is totally different) BritishSignLanguage.com is a useful site for simple vocabulary.

Talk to your whole class about how to be more deaf aware NDCS has some useful ideas for deaf friendly schools. Bullying of deaf pupils in my school is very rare- Our hearing DCs are very deaf aware and this helps them to understands the needs of their deaf friends.

HTH grin

HarrietJones Wed 20-Jul-11 19:31:00

NFCS used to have a good guide that I used with new TAs who wanted to know basic strategies. ( I used to work with deaf students)

Dd2 has had some loss when she was younger but wasn't detected St the time & her hearing is still affected occaisionally. Since I had glue ear I understand it a lot better. Walk round with one ear plug is for a day or two, it makes you very sympathetic!

emptyshell Wed 20-Jul-11 19:31:17

I periodically lose the hearing in one or both of my ears (NHS are bog all help with it). When it goes, apart from the obvious things about craning the "best" ear toward the person talking, the biggest thing I find is that I'm utterly unable to focus when multiple people are talking - it's as if that mechanism that normally lets you tune out the conversations that are irrelevant packs up and buggers off for an early bedtime - it's basically what people alluded to earlier - the background noise kills me completely.

I only suffer from it intermittently (about 3 times a year) but when it goes at its worst I'm unable to work in a classroom environment - I just cannot function with the ambient noise. It's also really really mentally wearing trying to focus and follow instructions with restricted hearing - since mine started to go periodically I really do appreciate that fact much more.

I've also taught children before on supply for whom I've had to wear a headset linked into an amplifier system - the kids were very very good at helping me make sure that I was wired up properly in that case and basically I got to strut around with a headset on like I was Madonna on stage or something - but the big thing I found with that was remembering where the off button was and to flip it off before having quiet words with TAs/working with another group or anything else, and the routine of putting it onto charge on a lunchtime and similar.... also making sure to look at the child when speaking and making sure that I didn't slip into "lazy accent" ways of pronouncing words... I'm also from a part of the world where we do naturally speak incredibly quickly so again, it's being slightly more aware than normal to slow my speech down (I do this routinely after this long teaching - it's more marked when you hear hubby doing something like practicing powerpoint presentations for his work and he's off at a hundred miles an hour talking).

HarrietJones Wed 20-Jul-11 19:35:13

That was N*D*CS btw

Second NDCS - they are brilliant.

(DS was hauled out regularly to go to talk to parents of newly diagnosed children grin he became what they called a Young Ambassador ) They should be really able to help

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