Preparing to Be an Effective Team Member

It is normal to feel a sense of urgency to learn everything you can immediately. While this is an admirable goal, it is not always a realistic one. Most of us have many other things that demand our time and energy, including a spouse, other children, a career, etc.

"In the beginning I did not like being an 'advocate.' Now I know that being an advocate was the best thing I could have done because I was able to teach my daughter to do it for herself when she got older."

Permission to 'Just be a Parent'

Begin to do everything you can to educate yourself, but also give yourself permission to 'just be a parent.'

It is easy to get lost in the learning and forget to slow down and enjoy your child. The more time you spend with your child, the more you come to know and understand them, and remember that THIS is what makes you such an important part of the team... you know your child better than anyone else!

Educating Yourself

Educating yourself is key to learning to work with professionals effectively. This education may come in the form of:

  • Learning everything you can about your child's hearing loss
  • Talking to other parents who have been in the same situations as you are in
  • Learning about what services are required to be provided for your child
  • Finding out what rights you have as a parent when decisions need to be made concerning your child

Preparing Yourself

It would be nice to think that we could quickly and easily learn everything we need to know before we need to know it. Unfortunately that is not usually the case. There are, however, a number of ways to prepare yourself:

Prioritize

There is so much to learn, so it is often helpful to prioritize the information you feel you need to know. Breaking it down makes it much less overwhelming, and easier to deal with.

Identify Resources

Many resources exist that can help you understand your child's hearing needs, including:

Other Parents - Very often veteran parents are eager to share their experience with new parents. Ask the professionals working with your child to put you in contact with other parents.

Internet - Conduct searches that specifically look for information on being deaf or hard of hearing, amplification options, choices in communication and education, etc.

Local Agencies - Contact local agencies specializing in services for the deaf and hard of hearing. They often have access to classes and public service information that they can share with you.

Your Local Library - The library is filled with information that can help you understand your child's hearing-related needs, including books, periodicals, access to the internet, blogs, and more.

Keep Good Notes

Many parents find it very helpful to keep a journal or write notes as they think of questions or concerns that they want to address with the professionals who work with their child.

As you find the information you need, print out hard copies, take notes, etc. It might be hard to digest everything at once. This allows you to go back and review information when you have some time to yourself. Information that is particularly helpful and good to keep for future use is information on the IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) and the IEP (Individual Education Plan) process.

Ask Questions

Ask questions and keep asking until you are satisfied that you have gotten the information you need. If your pediatrician, ENT or audiologist does not have the answers, ask to be referred to someone who does. Most are very willing to help you find the answers you need, but often do not do so automatically without you requesting it.