Helping Parents Help Children With Hearing Loss
Callier Center Conference Offers Guidance on Effective Education Strategies
Jan. 26, 2010
To help parents and professionals guide children with hearing loss along the path to adulthood, the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders hosted a conference on Jan. 7-8 titled, “Learning Through the Years: Strategies for Excelling at All Ages.”
Dr. Patricia M. Chute, professor and dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and Dr. Mary Ellen Nevins, national director of Professional Preparation in Cochlear Implants (PPCI) Training Program, were the featured speakers. Both are recognized as national experts on the education issues facing children with hearing loss.
“Over 90 percent of children with hearing loss are born to parents who have normal hearing,” said Melissa Sweeney, cochlear implant program manager at the Callier Center. “Often when parents first hear their child has a hearing loss, their dreams are shattered. But we want them to know that children with hearing loss do not have to be limited in what they do or what they become.”
The conference attendees spent the first day learning about the early years – birth to elementary school age – and the importance of early identification and intervention, selecting the proper educational placement, forming friendships and building self-advocacy.
“Empowering children with hearing loss to become advocates for themselves is one of the best things a parent can do, but it’s not always easy,” said Nevins. “Parents have the natural tendency to want to protect and shelter their children, but sometimes it’s best to let them face the consequences of their actions. Just because a child has a hearing loss does not mean he should not – nor cannot – learn a sense of personal organization and accountability.”
The agenda for the second day covered the years between middle school and early adulthood. Topics such as dating, preparing for college life, identifying career interests and preparing for job interviews were discussed.
“In the past, a lot of attention has been placed on very young children with hearing loss. We chose to also focus on adolescence and young adulthood because we want parents and teachers to know that every child with a hearing loss can mature into a healthy life-long learner who can contribute to and grow with society,” said Sweeney. “Thanks to advanced technology and improved therapy, achieving one’s ‘personal best’ is possible.”
The Bruton Conference Series on Communication Disorders sponsored the event. The series began in 1982 through a charitable trust established by David Bruton Jr., a distinguished Texas and industry leader.
Parents of children with hearing loss who are interested in participating in networking opportunities, educational programs and social events are encouraged to contact the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program’s (DCIP) HearSay Group. The DCIP is a collaborative enterprise between the Callier Center, UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center Dallas.