If your Child is Late-Identified or has Late-Onset Hearing loss:
You are not alone! The same number of children who are identified at birth are also identified later in childhood with hearing differences.
You are in the right place: it’s time to start learning about your child’s needs as soon as possible so you can take action. You have recently learned something about your child. Something that will only help your child succeed.
You will have many questions and emotions going forward. We can help! In 2022, we completed a grant-funded project looking at the needs of families of children with late-onset or late-identified hearing loss. More than 60 parents shared what was most critical for them to know.
Here are some starting points to learn about with your child’s new team: clinical audiologist, educational audiologist, a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing, and/or your CO Hands & Voices Parent Guide as you are navigating this. These are all available until your child is 18 or graduated from school. If your child is under the age of 3 years old, your CO-Hear (early childhood hearing education specialist) and Deaf/Hard of hearing Adults from the Ascent Program are great contacts.
- Learn more about your child’s hearing. Is this late-onset hearing loss or late-identified hearing loss, if known?
- Encourage all your child’s gifts and interests to help develop a strong sense of self. Hearing can be an important part of who they are, but they are so much more than their hearing. Creating a welcoming and safe environment to build communication in key, whether that be Spoken English/Spanish, ASL, CUE, AAC and/or a combination.
- If choosing technology, learn about troubleshooting and upkeep. Ask about ideas to help your child adjust to new sounds, and learn about the difficulties of hearing in noise. Getting up to all-day use is a process. You can also ask to see all your child’s options and learn about them before choosing. (Speak to other parents, too!)
- Need more support to meet milestones? At any time, you can ask for a ChildFind evaluation (birth to age 21) connected to your school district. Your child may be eligible for a 504 Plan which gives special accommodations for better inclusion in school, or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) if specialized instruction is needed. Talk to one of our Parent Guides or ASTra Program about the benefits of each (ASTra is Advocacy Support and Training).
- Learn about incidental language. Hearing children learn so much from “overhearing” what is said. Learn ways to close this gap for your child through direct communication within their “listening bubble” and/or using visual language or supports. If a hearing child learns a new word or concept after seven+ exposures, your deaf/hard of hearing child may need that and more repetitions in a variety of ways. Reading aloud each day can greatly increase their vocabulary and knowledge of the world. Encourage your child to ask questions and discuss the day’s events early on. Model using thinking/feeling words (decide, guess, opinion, realize, notice, frustrated, wish, surprised, etc.) Encourage your child’s social skills and positive identity. Meeting other families and Deaf/hard of hearing adults help!
- Confused? That’s okay. We were too at first. You have a right to second opinions and to ask about the experience of staff supporting your child. Many of us with late-identified children felt “there is no time to lose” and wanted the most experienced providers possible. Comprehensive assessments help us know exactly where our child might need support. Be the parent who asks questions. If you don’t know what questions to ask, talk with one of our Parent Guides and we can help you get the ball rolling.
- Create a deaf/hard of hearing friendly home: Your Parent Guide can assist with understanding these ideas. Check out this description about adding visual supports written by Deaf/Hard of hearing adults. These home strategies can be used for all deaf/hard of hearing individuals, for whatever communication modality your family chooses. Don’t be afraid to try them and see which ones work with your child.