Beyond Child’s Voice: Parents Give Real-World Advice During Mainstream Panel 

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Last month, I shared that I was looking forward to our Mainstream Parent Panel. We hosted the panel last week and we had two alumni parents who shared their experiences with families from both our Early Intervention Program and our School Program. These parents have students who are in their second and fourth years at their neighborhood schools. They had so many great ideas to share with our families. These are my favorite tips they shared:

  • Get to know the staff at your child’s new school. Set up a meet and greet if the school does not offer one. Find out which staff member is the Case Manager for your child. Create a direct line of communication with the Principal, Teacher, Hearing Itinerant, and Case Manager. Don’t be afraid to use that line of communication, but don’t abuse it either.
  • Seek help when you need it. Use your child’s team to help you when issues arise. One student was not advocating for herself when it came to her hearing aids and the parent was able to reach out to create a system with her team to prevent future issues.
  • Advocate for your child whenever possible, especially with coaches. Explain the challenges of background noise and the importance of wearing a remote microphone.
  • Trust your gut. You know your child best and you know what he or she needs.
  • Being able to read before entering the mainstream is crucial to success. One student was able to follow along on Zoom classes during remote learning because she could read the captions.
  • Ask for specific attributes that you want in a teacher, such as structured teaching style, good communicator and experience with students with IEPs.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to meet other children before entering the new school through sports, camps, dance, etc.
  • If your child is shy, ask for a friend to be put in the same class.
  • Casually discuss self-advocacy skills with your child. If your child shares a challenging situation, ask, “What could you have done better/differently when that happened?”
  • Put as many accommodations as possible into your child’s IEP. Listening breaks are very important because it is hard to listen for long periods of time. Preferential seating is crucial for seeing the teacher and classmates when they speak.
  • Ask for a peer in-service at the beginning of the year where your child can explain his/her hearing loss and hearing devices to not only his/her class, but the entire grade.
  • Stay in touch with Child’s Voice. Ask for help if you need it. Stay involved with alumni activities so your child can connect with other children who have a hearing loss.

Thank you to our parents Alix and Katie for sharing your advice and insights!