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Halloween and Hearing Loss: Halloween Tips For Hearing Impaired Children

Happy brother and two sisters on Halloween. Funny kids in carnival costumes indoors. Cheerful children play with pumpkins and candy.

Halloween is right around the corner. It’s a fun holiday for everyone. Something we believe is really important to us is that hearing loss shouldn’t have to hinder your life – and that is even truer for trick or treaters. Therefore, here are a couple of tips in order for help your ghouls and goblins to stay safe.

Set the processors on hearing devices to blink while in use. That way when they are trick or treating others know that they are receiving sound.

Suggest a costume that requires them to paint their faces rather than facemasks or hats. It avoids blocked vision and dislodged hearing aids, which could lead to accidents.

Make sure their costumes and shoes fit well to avoid any trips and falls.

Use reflective tape and flashing stickers for their costume and trick or treat bag. This way, drivers can see them as they walk across the street or as they move from house to house.

Urge them to carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see. Not only does it help them see, but also it acts as a source of light should their hearing device falls off.

Accompany them if they are less than 12 years old

Advise them to always use the crosswalks, if they are old enough to trick or treat by themselves. Make sure to include them in groups of at least 3 kids.

Before going out, draw a map outlining the route they should follow through a familiar and well-lit neighborhood.

Set up a time for them to be home and a route so that they will not deviate from their path on the way home.

For the little ones with hearing devices, make sure they fit properly. Those that are older, make sure to check everything is working beforehand and pack extra batteries. But most importantly, have a happy (and safe) Halloween!

For more information on Halloween and Hearing loss, please click here.

The Halloween Hearing Special: Why Scary Sounds Scare Us

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After a month of meticulous costume-planning, Halloween has finally arrived. But what if going out to haunted houses or trick-or-treating out in the cold (yes, grown-ups still do it) isn’t your slice of cake? For that, we have scary movies.

We have a challenge for you, though. Naturally, you can enjoy silent films without the hearing aids. You can enjoy any other movie without aids, too, so long as you have captions. What about modern scary movies? Creaking stairs, blood-curdling screams, and, of course, the creepy soundtracks in minor chords make your adrenaline pump, so what happens when you take them away?

Over a year ago, UCLA evolutionary biologist Daniel Blumstein conducted research on the music in scary movies. The results: Hearing those harsh, dissonant sounds of soundtracks in scary movies appeals to our instinctual responses to fear.

In the animal world—particularly in the mammal world, though also in avians—young creatures use what Blumstein calls “nonlinear sounds” to signal their distress to their parents. When conducting the experiment, Blumstein and his partners, Richard Davitian and Peter Kaye, had subjects listen to soundtracks from adventure, dramatic, war, and horror movies. Soundtracks with nonlinear sounds—typically horror movies—correlated with subjects feeling the strongest and most negative emotional reactions. Among all these genres, the researchers also found the use of non-human sounds, which also increased the emotional response.

So, horror movie soundtracks are hugely correlated to the cries of young animals in danger, which is a sound we’re instinctually attuned to hearing. When we watch scary movies and tremble, it’s all in the sound—the music that lingers eerily hours after you’ve finished watching elicits a gut reaction.

Now that we’ve had our science lesson, we’ve included a few clips of soundtracks from 5 scary movies for you. Listen to the soundtrack (one of them is an actual scene!) Once you’re done, try watching the actual movies without the sound and see if Blumstein’s conclusion holds water (Good news: They’re all available on Netflix). Are they scarier? Or are they simply laughable without the sounds and the music? Let us know on Facebook!.

 

For more information on Scary Sounds, please visit Audicus.com.

It Takes Teamwork: Mainstreaming Kids with Hearing Loss

Beautiful kids' smiles

Since the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, the number of children mainstreamed into public schools with hearing loss has increased dramatically. About 75 percent of children with hearing loss are now mainstreamed into public schools, and about half of those children spend the majority of the day in a “hearing” classroom.

When it comes to meeting the educational needs of a child who is deaf or has hearing loss, there are many different professionals who play a part in their success. These professionals work in collaboration with each other in the best interests of the child to facilitate a good outcome. It is important to know the roles of the professionals who are part of your child’s team so you know what to expect from each party involved. The more you know about the roles, the more comfortable you will be interacting with staff and, most importantly, being an effective advocate for your child.

A multidisciplinary team

Certified educational interpreter (CEI): Though responsibilities can vary, the CEI is generally responsible for ensuring communication access at school. A certified educational interpreter is responsible for sitting with the student during class and translating the teacher’s spoken English into signed communication if needed. Ideally, the educational interpreter can sign in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a visual language in which hand shape, palm orientation, placement and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements replace vocal language. Although the interpreter is a valuable part of the educational team, the exact role of the CEI differs based on each child’s individual needs according to the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Responsibilities include:

  • attending IEP meetings.
  • sharing observations about how well the student understands the interpreted classroom or any other issues related to interpreting.
  • providing communication access not only in the classroom but across a variety of educational settings including recess and extra-curricular activities.

Teacher of the deaf

Another staff member who might play a role in your child’s education is a teacher of the deaf. Also known as an itinerant teacher or hearing support teacher, this person plays a vital role in facilitating the personal, social and intellectual development of the student by helping with language acquisition, communication and advocacy skills. Part teacher, part counselor, they work with the student, staff and administration and communicate with parents regarding the child’s educational progress. They also help students with amplification needs (e.g. making sure an FM system is working properly). Other responsibilities include:

  • meeting on a regular basis with the student to provide support.
  • assisting in the development of the IEP.
  • working within the IEP to help develop an educational plan.
  • acting as liaison to other school personnel.
  • monitoring personal hearing instruments or other hearing technology to ensure they are in working order.
  • troubleshooting to diagnose and fix any basic problems with hearing equipment.
  • contacting the school-based audiologist for more complex equipment problems or need for repair.

Educational audiologist

Educational audiologists have a broader role to manage school-based hearing screening programs and promote healthy hearing, but when it comes to the individual student with hearing loss, their role becomes more focused. They communicate with the teacher of the deaf in order to make sure all personal listening devices and audiological equipment are calibrated and in working order, and they make recommendations based on the results of hearing evaluations. Other duties include:

  • collecting and reviewing outside audiological evaluations for students with hearing loss.
  • performing comprehensive hearing evaluations, interpreting results and making educational recommendations based on those results.
  • assessing classroom acoustics and making recommendations to improve the listening environment including hearing assistive technology.
  • managing and making recommendations for personal hearing devices.
  • participating in IEP meetings.

Speech-language pathologist (SLP)

Also known as a speech therapist, a speech-language pathologist works closely with the school audiologist to gain insight into how a student is managing with regard to their hearing devices (e.g. cochlear implants). In the event that the school does not have an educational audiologist, the SLP becomes the lead staff member to work with children who have cochlear implants and works with the child’s clinical audiologist to understand how the equipment is affecting language development. Speech language pathologists also develop communication and linguistic goals for each student so they can achieve a level of verbal communication on par with their hearing peers. Other duties include:

  • correcting, improving and preventing communication disorders.
  • assessing the student’s communication skills.
  • evaluating the results of comprehensive assessments.
  • offering input into the development of the IEP.
  • collaborating with teachers and other staff.
  • integrating communication goals with social and academic goal.

Case manager

Often the primary contact for parents, it is the responsibility of the case manager to oversee all aspects of the child’s mainstreamed education. They are responsible for seeing the child’s IEP is followed and that every effort is made to help the child achieve their goals. Other responsibilities of the case manager include:

  • facilitating placement in the appropriate grade and classroom.
  • training classroom staff in matters of hearing loss including hearing assistive equipment.
  • scheduling team meetings.
  • working with parents.
  • reporting student’s progress.
  • assuring that all materials and services are in place for the student.
  • communicating all decisions to parents and team members.
  • communicating any safety and welfare needs of the student to team members.

What if your child has trouble hearing?

If you suspect your child has hearing loss, the first thing to do is see a hearing professional for an evaluation. And remember: even though the diagnosis of a hearing loss may be worrisome or overwhelming, there are more support systems and resources available to your family now than ever before. The educational resources available for children with hearing problems have come a long way since 1975, and becoming familiar with the role each party plays can give your child the best chance to reach his full potential and have a bright future.

For more information about kids and hearing loss, please visit HealthyHearing.com.

The Impact of Treated Hearing Loss on Quality of Life

Teen with hearing aid showing thumb up, selective focus on ear

It would seem that hearing is a second-rate sense when compared to vision in our visually oriented modern society. People with hearing loss delay a decision toget hearing help because they are unaware of the fact that receiving early treatment for hearing loss has the potential to literally transform their lives. Research by the National Council on the Aging on more than 2,000 people with hearing loss as well as their significant others demonstrated that hearing aids clearly are associated with impressive improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with hearing loss in all hearing loss categories from mild to severe. Specifically, hearing aid usage is positively related to the following quality of life issues. Hearing loss treatment was shown to improve:

  • Earning power
  • Communication in relationships
  • Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
  • Ease in communication
  • Emotional stability
  • Sense of control over life events
  • Perception of mental functioning
  • Physical health
  • Group social participation

And just as importantly hearing loss treatment was shown to reduce:

  • Discrimination toward the person with the hearing loss
  • Hearing loss compensation behaviors (i.e. pretending you hear)
  • Anger and frustration in relationships
  • Depression and depressive symptoms
  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Social phobias
  • Self-criticism

If you are one of those people with a mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, who is sitting on the fence, consider all the benefits of hearing aids described above. Hearing aids hold such great potential to positively change so many lives.

For more information on the impact of treated hearing loss on quality of life, please visit BetterHearing.org.

7 High-Tech Reasons You Should Finally Deal with Your Hearing Loss

Doctor Showing Female Patient Model Of Human Ear

Lifting your mood, boosting your energy, protecting your earnings, super-charging your social life — and even keeping your mind sharp. These are just some of the many spoils that come with facing and dealing with a noise-induced hearing loss that has been slowly but persistently creeping up on you.

The quality-of-life and feel-good benefits of treating even just mild hearing loss brought on by years of loud music, power tools, high-volume headphones, motor-sport engines, crowded night clubs and bars, noisy restaurants, and raucous sporting events are plenty. But in this digital age of smart phones and wearable technologies, the draw for many solution-minded consumers may be in the technology itself. Super-smart, super-sleek, super-convenient, and super-sophisticated — today’s hearing aids give you a multitude of reasons to address that hearing loss you’ve been trying so hard to ignore.

Consider these inspiring facts about today’s highly functional, high-powered hearing aids. They just may get you to finally do something about your hearing loss and make your life easier.

They’re cool, sleek, discreet and virtually invisible. The latest hearing aids offer functionality, style and effortless living. The designs are incredibly attractive and they’re much smaller than even conventional Bluetooth earpieces. Many of the latest hearing aids are so tiny; they sit discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal, out of sight. Aesthetically, hearing aids have had a complete makeover.

They cut out background noise so you hear what you want to hear. Hearing aids now scan the listening environment and automatically adapt to it—even in the wind. There are even hearing aids that can actually “geo-tag” a location. So if it’s convenient for you to network at a certain coffee shop, your hearing aids will know when you’re there and adjust themselves accordingly.

New technologies not only help you decipher speech details in music and noise, but they better preserve and clarify the more subtle sounds of language — like the consonants B, S, F, T, and Z — so you can really follow what someone is saying. No faking.

You can hear from all directions — even when scoping out what’s in the fridge. Advanced directional microphone technology lets you hear from the back and side — something really important when driving a car. But it also makes it easier to hear voices more clearly in other everyday settings — like when your head is in the fridge and your significant other is talking at your back. Yes, that’s one great feature.

Digital, Bluetooth, and wireless capabilities in hearing aids are the now the norm. Many new technologies let you stream sound directly into your hearing aids — at the perfect volume — from your smartphone, laptop, conference-room speakerphone, home entertainment system, and other Bluetooth devices. Using a wireless mini-microphone — with cool, contoured designs, some even looking like a pen— placed on the restaurant or conference-room table, or near anyone you want to hear, makes it feel like they’re speaking directly and clearly into your ears, no matter how noisy the setting.

State-of-the-art hearing aids can do a lot for the person. They offer no whistling due to advances in digital technology. Most are hypoallergenic with nanotechnology coating to keep them clean and dry. Some are fully waterproof so you can swim or shower with them in, and some have rechargeable batteries.

There are even more disruptive hearing technologies on the horizon. Totally out-of-sight, semi-permanent hearing aids that stay in for two to three months let you shower and sleep in them, no fuss. Hearing aid manufacturers are deep in the trenches working to create future breakthrough technologies that will make it as easy as possible for the brain to decode speech and other sounds. After all, we really do hear with our brains and not with our ears. Some hearing aids with these technologies are already available.

For more information on high tech gadgets for hearing loss, please visit HearingHealthFoundation.org.

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    Sonus Hearing Care Professionals

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