Hearing and Learning: A Guide for Helping Children

Hearing and Learning: A Guide for Helping Children

RATING:  (4 of 5 ears)
AUTHOR: Donna S. Wayner, PhD
PUBLISHER: Hear Again, Inc.
ISBN: 0-9664780-6-1
COST: $25.00 (softcover)

REVIEWER: Roz R. Garfinkel, MA, ABA Certified Audiologist

SYNOPSIS: Hearing and Learning: A Guide for Helping Children provides a down to earth, practical text that takes much of the mystique out of the terms that befuddle parents of a newly diagnosed hard of hearing/deaf child. This well-organized text is designed to support first-time parents and provide basic information and support about hearing, hearing loss, types of habilitation or rehabilitation. The author examines all the aspects considered when discussing hearing loss including different types of hearing loss and the relationships between hearing loss thresholds and the usual consequences. The "Hearing Helps" sections discuss hearing aids, cochlear implants, Assistive Listening Devices/Systems, Communication Methods, Classroom Communication suggestions and other issues. The handouts for teachers and information on how to help the child in the school environment are practical for parents without the services of an educational audiologist in their school system. The final section includes suggestions for programs on hearing conservation and hearing awareness for both elementary and high school students.

REVIEW: This text should be viewed as a support text to supplement the audiological information provided by the diagnosing audiologist. It is a supportive reference for parents without previous information on hearing, hearing loss, or amplification. The book is divided into five sections, each of which supports the next section.

CRITIQUE: Good reference text—especially if you are a new audiologist starting out and have no references or materials for referencing for newly diagnosed parents. It is helpful to have on your bookshelf, depending on the number of newly diagnosed infants and their parents you deal with on a regular basis, and if you do not have an educational audiologist, teacher of the hearing impaired or deaf educator supporting that child in the home.

Audience: This text is a support book for parents of newly diagnosed children with hearing loss. It is designed to supplement the information normally provided by the audiologist, to allow parents a "take home" reference for common questions.

Strengths: Hearing and Learning fills a need for a basic source book for parents. It provides a well-planned curriculum to take new parents through the basic information they will need to understand the hearing loss and equipment options for their newly diagnosed child. It provides an excellent glossary and resource guide for new parents to support the information presented by their audiologists. The good record keeping ideas for parents and the supplemental handouts could be very useful for parents in areas without educational audiological support, or Hearing Support teachers or deaf educators who serve preschool/school age children.

Weakness: Hearing and Learning is a beginning text for parents so its purpose is not to go into a great depth of information, but rather to provide an overview of information. It does this very well. There are a few problems in this text: the one paragraph discussion of auditory training, the lack of mention of the IFSP/IEP and its importance to the child, and the lack of mention of educational audiology or deaf educators/teachers of the hearing impaired.

In the text, Hearing and Learning, the editor gives auditory training one paragraph and suggests parents start training with a tape of environmental sounds. Taped sounds may not be an ideal way to start to teach auditory training for all children with hearing loss. Depending on the degree of loss, parents may first need to teach a newly diagnosed child to listen and attend to sound in the environment. Parents could be encouraged to help their children find out what makes each sound and give it a name, and then the move to taped sounds would be more appropriate. The next section of the book: "Speech Sound Discrimination in Quiet" is good and practical for young child. The suggestions for "Speech Sound Discrimination In Noise" by adding a background noise tape are premature for most newly diagnosed heard of hearing/deaf, newly aided children in most settings and should be explained much more cautiously, or simply not included in this section. Listening in noise is an extremely sophisticated skill for most hearing impaired children and should not be attempted too soon—so as to not discourage the child, his/her self esteem, or use of amplification.

The IFSP/IEP and its potential effect on the status of hard of hearing children in preschools and schools was not mentioned, this may have been intentional by the author, to avoid confusing new parents. Both terms were included in the glossary. Both deserve mention in the text as an integral part of any child's educational programming. Lack of mention of the in-home services available to qualifying infants and preschoolers, and to school age programming available to later diagnosed qualifying children and teens with hearing loss is a significant oversight. While many school districts may employ educational audiologists- if an educational consultant is available (a teacher of the deaf/hearing impaired and/or an educational audiologist) this is a viable request for a parent. That person brings with them a wealth of education, experiences, and data to support that family and the child in most situations.