Listening is hard work! If you have typical hearing you don’t even think about it. Your ears are always on, ready to receive new information. “It takes no effort to hear,” says Dr. Carol Flexer, professor emeritus of Audiology at the University of Akron, “hearing occurs all the time…at every moment of the day.”
However, if you have a hearing loss, even a mild hearing loss, you spend a great deal of time and energy listening and interpreting information that needs to get to your brain. Trying to focus on what your teacher is saying while blocking out the whispers and giggles of your classmates, not to mention the squeaky chairs, can be hard work. Remember hearing aids and implants make all sounds louder.
All this noise generally results in a cranky and tired child at the end of the school day that unfortunately coincides with your desire to pepper them with questions about their day, which leads to still more required listening on their part.
Here are some tips to help both you and your child transition through the “listening fatigue” that often sets in after the school day, or a therapy session:
- If you pick your child up from school make sure the radio is turned down and the windows are up, if possible, to reduce noise from traffic. The noise from fans blowing heat or cold air can also be too much at the end of the day. A quiet car will also help your child recharge on the way to his after-school activities.
- If your child takes the bus home from school try to arrange for her to sit near the front. It’s generally a lot less noisy the closer you are to the driver.
- Try a “listening break.” Jennifer Rosenberg, speech language pathologist in NYC, often recommends this approach to her patients. A listening break involves letting your child remove their hearing equipment (hearing aids/CI processors/BAHA) for a specified period of time. Set a timer and let him do what he wants and take break from listening. After the timer goes off, back goes the hearing equipment.
- Make sure that your house has is quiet and welcoming at the end of the day – try to not have the radio/TV blasting, the dishwasher going, or the dog and the cat chasing around the living room.
- Let your child watch a captioned DVD or TV show; or let her curl up on the couch to look at a book. Looking does not take as much work as listening, and shifting the focus to another sense helps her unwind.
- Let your child spend some quiet time alone. My son loves to pile up pillows and blankets and bury himself in them. He says he enjoys being “in the middle of still.”