Practical help for parents
Providing support to children with hearing loss – ranging from newborns to five-year-olds – is the main focus of a Canadian organization that offers both effective help for parents and advanced training for specialist staff in the Canadian provinces.
Place & Year
Project PartnersBC Family Hearing Resource Society
Canada, the second-largest country in the world, stretches over almost a million square kilometers. It has a population density of 3.4 inhabitants per square kilometer, which is very low compared to the likes of Switzerland, for example, where there are 194 people per square kilometer. People living in remote parts of Canada who have a child with hearing loss are unlikely to find any other parents nearby who are in the same situation and with whom they can share experiences. Moreover, most of the support services on offer, such as speech therapy, are concentrated in the main urban centers. In more remote regions, teachers, care workers and speech therapists rarely encounter children with hearing loss. As a result, they often struggle to deal with hearing loss in children or do not have up-to-date information on research findings and therapies available to help them. The BC Family Hearing Resource Society (BCFHRS) is the largest organization in British Columbia that arranges for highly dedicated specialists to travel through extremely sparsely populated provinces, where they provide training for staff in kindergartens and schools and advice for parents. “Hearing loss has a huge impact on communication and therefore on social behavior too,” explains Dr. Noreen Simmons, Director of the BCFHRS. Professional and individually tailored support programs are therefore essential for even the very youngest of patients to enable them to develop their language skills to their full potential later on.
Training for both parents and care and support staff
The younger children are, the more they depend on the people looking after them. Children with hearing loss can only receive optimum support if all these people pull together. This is why the focus of the Canadian organization is on ensuring that parents are as well-informed as possible, and this also involves sharing experiences with other parents. At the BCFHRS center in Surrey, near Vancouver, parents come from far and wide to take part in two to five day group workshops and have the chance to receive individual consultations. A library of information material is available here too. Parents and specialists work together to monitor the individual progress of each child and set goals for the future. Anyone else who deals with the children on a daily basis (e.g. care center staff, elementary school teachers or speech therapists) is also given training by specialists and kept informed about the latest research findings.