Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recognizing Behavior vs. Technology

My area of interest in my profession is children with hearing impairment and I love to work with these kiddos and their parents.  Parents have made changes and decisions since their baby was diagnosed with a hearing loss and one of those decisions they have made is to learn language by listening and verbalizing.  That, in turn, opens up for me so many areas of my job that I love and so many areas of my job that I have fun with - but there are also times I don't enjoy myself so much and neither does the client, obviously!  I always go back and review my notes and decide if the session was a good one and what I could have done differently if needed.  I promise myself to find two good items in a session and reteach an area that didn't go so well.

In the meantime, while I attended this outstanding research symposium, a point came across that hit me hard. It hit me hard because I am guilty of the point.  A question I have not asked myself, or taught to  the parent, in a long time! The question? When you see the client not performing the way you expect or not getting the language that should be coming - what's the problem?  When the client does not perform consistently over time and the parent is beginning to feel discouraged because the client is not achieving points from the lesson or acting as though they hear any language - what's the problem?
And the next question I should be asking. . . ?  When was the last time the technology was checked?  My first thought should go to technology - is it working correctly, hearing aids or cochlear implants?
Yes we do a Ling check (six phonemes within a speech spectrum/frequency to monitor that they are hearing speech) and then I do check (observe) through the lesson.  But when things begin to change - even the slightest change you wouldn't expect to see - the first question should always be - How's the technology?  If you don't know - send them to the audiologist for the check.

Professionals should be more diligent in being the behaviorist and noting whether the reaction the child is having is because of equipment, not because the child is acting out or having a bad day.  Start asking questions of the parent and see if you can pin point the problem - and the questions and checking of equipment should always be the first move.  Parents are great at watching their child's behavior and will be honest about how the child is doing.  If the parent is telling you their child is not leaving  hearing aids on or pulling off the cochlear implant, then investigate.  Yes, a child does need to get use to their equipment but that is short-lived if the parent is consistent and expectations don't change.
Check the equipment, don't keep telling the parent 'It's okay, just keep putting the technology back on.'
If the parent is telling you that lately the child doesn't answer or verbalize; or they are telling you the child's voice has changed; or they voice their concern in their child's behavior - then check the equipment and teach the parent the basics of checking equipment.  We, as professionals, owe it to the parent to pay attention to certain 'new' aspects of their child.  We, as professionals, owe it to the parent to teach them how to advocate for their child and get the professional to realize something is up.  We should not, professional or parent, be quick to assume something else is wrong.  It is not always a behavior problem and it is not always something else terrible for the parent to worry about.
Lesson learned: Check the equipment!

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