If you’re a regular reader (hello all 9 of you!), you probably think that I’m a little bit blunt and stubborn in my opinions and likely don’t agree with everything I’ve posted, especially in my last couple of posts. I’m not an embittered person though, I think my beliefs that individuals’, especially young people’s, perspectives and experiences with hearing impairments need to be changed for the better is substantiated.
Studies looking at the psychological wellbeing of children who wear hearing aids have yielded striking results. Children with hearing aids are far more likely than their peers – both normal-hearing and even those with cochlear implants – to have higher levels of social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder. Just think about that for a second. Children who have undergone invasive procedures to remedy their hearing impairments are comparable to normal hearing children, while those with hearing aids are at risk of psychological conditions which threaten to have a profoundly negative impact on their lives.
Why is this? Currently it is not well understood. My thoughts are that children with hearing aids currently stuck in a gap. Those with normal hearing, obviously experience a typical childhood. Those with cochlear implants usually receive high levels of support from physicians, specialists, and educators. Often, many are at least somewhat involved in the highly supportive Deaf community. These children grow up under the medical model, as patients who have teams of people ensuring they have the tools for proper growth and development.
Children with hearing impairments who wear hearing aids? They are often stuck in the middle. Not quite typically developing, but not under the umbrella of paediatric medical care either. Their teachers, parents and peers may treat them like they would a child who needs corrective glasses, even though additional care and counselling may be required. Often these children do not have any hearing-aid wearing adults to look up to, and develop strong feelings of embarrassment and worry about others’ opinions of them and their hearing aids.
What is currently being done to change this? If you’re drawing a blank, then you and I are in the same boat. Some have commented and criticized me for getting worked up over my views on the appropriate language to use for those who use hearing aids. I am steadfast in my beliefs that changes in the way we perceive those with hearing aids need to be made, and the language we use is a simple starting point.
What are your thoughts? As always please share below!