As your child grows and develops, you’ll enjoy observing each new skill they learn. You’ll celebrate the small steps and progress that lead to your child’s LSL goals. Yet, change can be expected and you want this change because it means that your child is learning and growing. Transitions are important in a child’s life. They’re opportunities for your child to have new experiences and learn from others.
Transitions occur at different ages and stages and you want these experiences to be positive for your child. Some parents share that their child’s transitions, such as going to daycare, staying overnight with family, going to visit friends, or moving from early intervention to school, can be overwhelming. When your child experiences these transitions you might view them as positive but also as a challenge. At first, you might think about how happy you are that your child is doing the things you had hoped for, yet some transitions may cause feelings that remind you of that day of diagnosis. You may feel anxious or emotional about the hearing loss all over again. Everyone copes with transitions in different ways but the goal is to make new experiences as positive as possible for you, your child, and the adults and caregivers around them.
Take a look at some of the transitions you’re likely to experience with your child:
- New Caregiving Experiences: Most parents place their children in some type of caregiving setting at various times during their early years. Whether it’s a home or center-based daycare, mother’s day out program, or short-term nursery, you’ll need to prepare all caregivers for the best ways to care for your child.
- New Social Experiences: As your child grows, they’ll begin to participate in activities with other children. These experiences help build social skills and foster all areas of development. Whether it’s attending a friend’s birthday party, going to an overnight sleepover, or enrolling in activities such as music or sports, you’ll need to prepare ahead for these new experiences.
- New School Experiences: If your child is diagnosed with hearing loss before the age of three, you’ll enroll in LSL early intervention (EI) services. If those service are provided through your state EI program, then your child will transition to new services through your local school program at the age of 3. Your EI team will assist you in this transition but you will want to prepare yourself ahead for this change in services.
STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL TRANSITIONS
Transitions can be an exciting time for you and your child if you plan ahead and stay aware of your child’s listening needs. Each new transition gives your child the opportunity to progress in listening and spoken language so they can engage in interactions with their hearing friends. You’ll choose the best strategies based on the type of transition your child will experience.
Think about your child’s needs and the specific place your child will attend. Will it be for a long period of time or just once? This will help you decide which strategies will be most helpful.
Share About Your Child
Prepare a short one-page explanation of your child’s hearing loss and the specific information you want someone to know about your child. Include any tips you have for the caregiver that will make listening and communication easier.
Share About The Hearing Device
Prepare a quick kit and guide for your child’s hearing device. This should include batteries, a holder for the device(s), and a card that describes how to change the batteries, turn the device on and off, and other key information about the device. This information is available from your pediatric audiologist, LSL early interventionist, or device manufacturer.
Meet The Caregiver/Teacher
Arrange for you and your child to meet with the caregiver/teacher. Show them how to put the devices on your child and take them off. It’s also helpful if they practice doing this with your child while you are present. You want the caregiver/teacher to be very comfortable handling the device so they are more likely to put the device back on if it’s removed.
Arrive Early To New Experiences
Plan to arrive early to the location with your child so there will be plenty of time to help your child adjust to the environment, ask and answer questions, and locate the place your child’s equipment will be stored. Review information about the hearing devices as needed.
Prepare Your Child
As your child grows and develops independence, they’ll be able to take care of their hearing devices and communicate their needs. Teach them to talk with their teachers, coaches, and friends about their hearing loss and hearing devices. Your child will need to be able to tell an adult when they’re having trouble listening or when their batteries aren’t working. When they’re little, you’ll be their voice. However, before you realize it, they’ll learn to speak for themselves.
Share For Support
Share your feelings about the transition with other parents or your LSL professional. It’s common for feelings about your child’s hearing loss to come back around when your child is moving on to a new experience. It may be helpful to talk about these new experiences with someone else for support.
Merry shares her strategies for making transitions a positive experience for her daughter:
“Riley was my first child so it was hard to leave her but I also wanted her to have the same social interaction other little ones had.
The first time we went to one of these places, I would call ahead to let them know Riley wore cochlear implants to help her hear so they at least had an idea of what to expect.
I would then go a little early so I could talk with the teacher to show them her ‘ears.’ Riley could usually put them back in herself, but we would take them off to show the teacher and I would show them how they went back on her ears.
We talked through some challenges such as listening in noise and changing batteries. I shared some tips to help Riley such as allowing her to sit close to the teacher and for teacher to speak with a clear voice.
I always wanted the teacher to feel comfortable asking me questions so I let her know up front she could ask me anything. I would always ask when picking Riley up if everything went okay and if she was participating. I also let the teacher know her observations were helpful to me. These strategies made it more comfortable for us to gain a rapport with the teacher and make it a good experience for Riley.
While it was scary to let Riley try new activities, I found out that as long as we talked about challenges and expectations up front that things generally went pretty smooth and ended up being not a big deal for any of us.”
TRANSITION FROM EARLY INTERVENTION TO SCHOOL
If your child has been in LSL early intervention on an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) prior to 3 years of age, you may choose to transition them to services with your local school. All that you learned about the EI system and the professionals working on that team will help you as your child transitions to school services. You will learn new systems as you transition from the IFSP to the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
It will still be important for you to remain highly involved and find ways to communicate with the school team so that experience will be the best for your child and your family. Communicate concerns and formulate a request if you have needs that you feel aren’t being met. The most positive experience for your family as you navigate this part of the journey is to maintain positive communications with the people who teach your child and stay highly involved in your child’s academic education.