What About The Deaf Child Who Listens?

I am so concerned about the very slow turnaround time from diagnoses to intervention (amplification, support and educational transfer) for children diagnosed at a late age with hearing loss. It’s like no one is following particular protocols/the bare minimum of services are offered.

The result? An ill-informed parent, a child withdrawing from social interaction. Add to this an ignorant/uneducated community where it is easier to laugh at/ignore what we don’t know or understand…The isolation is unthinkable, but the very unfortunate reality of many hearing impaired/deaf kids in South Africa.

I ask myself why and what can I do to change this…why should a child be placed at an immediate (and possibly lifelong) disadvantage as a result of their diagnoses?

I look at my child and it saddens me to know that there are parents out there who also only want the best for their kids, but all they are offered is the very basics of government intervention and no support/guidance.

What infuriates me most is the squable between two departments (educational/health) where neither wants to take responsibility for services/resources that a deaf child is entitled to! Then the struggle of the parent to apply for a disability grant because according to SASSA (depending on who you speak to) a hearing impairment is NOT a disability!

I can go on and on about the myriad of challenges families of deaf/hearing impaired children face. Especially those families who aren’t as fortunate to have information and resources readily available to them.

Take 5 minutes to place yourself in the shoes of a parent of a child with a hearing impairment and understand just how big the challenges are in our country…when NO government department is prepared to 100% acknowledge and commit to supporting children who are deaf, children who DO NOT use South African Sign Language.

These last few days I’ve been exposed to the harsh realities of some families raising children with a hearing loss, children who have already acquired a spoken language through listening and lip reading, children who are now amplified, but have no resources to help them further develop their auditory and language skills.

Sadly, parents are not being guided by our government institutions, and it is up to other families and organisations to help guide and support hearing parents who are facing a diagnoses that is so alien to them, a diagnoses of hearing loss/hearing impairment/deafness; a diagnoses they never fathomed until they sat in front of the audiologist.

Concerned does not even begin to describe how I feel about this issue…