How do I... give my child the best holiday experience?
Going on holiday can be an exciting time and every parent wants their child to enjoy their trip. For parents of a deaf child, there might be more to think about around safety, organisation and deaf awareness. Below parents share their tips on preparing for a holiday.
Make sure you apply sun cream BEFORE your child puts on their hearing technology...
Sherrie is mum to Megan (4) who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants.
“Megan wears cochlear implants so we make sure we take enough travel plugs with us for the dry box, battery charger and accessories (each of ours was provided with adaptable plugs) when we travel.
We pack rechargeable batteries in separate cases, in case of lost luggage, and make sure we have enough battery life in our hand luggage to last our travel time.
I suggest contacting your implant centre/provider well in advance if you want to arrange insurance for the travel spares/replacement service.
If you have them, pack a spare of each part: microphone covers, coil cable, etc. We found Gatwick Airport very knowledgeable with no need to explain about body scanners.
We use the mini-mic accessory with an aux cable so Megan can plug into headphone sockets for in-plane entertainment and the iPad, but be sure to test the volume set-up before you go.
Try to get into a routine of applying sun cream on ears where possible before implants are put on, as we found that it got messy when applying on the move. When in the pool, or at aqua parks, we use a fabric Alice band and swim hat to keep processors in place and Cochlear’s aqua accessory with ear clips.
The mini-mic is a great way of making sure your child can hear you if you’re on the edge of the pool. This was particularly useful when there were water fountains and play areas. Also, make sure everyone you’re travelling with is aware of how waterproof your child’s hearing devices are as water play is often more frequent on holiday!”
Explain that the rules still apply on holiday – this includes wearing hearing aids...
Charlotte is mum to Leo (6) who is moderately deaf, wears hearing aids and uses a radio aid.
“Leo struggles with background noise so when flying we always make sure we’re last to board and leave the plane, so we avoid the rush. We also use his radio aid in busy places.
He manages without his hearing aids in the day while he’s round the pool but we then put them in for meal times and the evening. We’re so used to him wearing his aids now; everything just comes naturally as it’s all part of his daily routine. Whether we’re at home or on holiday the rules still apply.”
Take a letter explaining why your child can’t go through body scanners at the airport...
Mandeep is mum to Luckpal (14) who is profoundly deaf and has a cochlear implant.
“When we go on holiday I ask the Nottingham Auditory Implant Programme (NAIP), who provided Luckpal with his cochlear implant and give him support, to write an official letter explaining he can’t go through the body scanners at the airport.
I also get another letter in the language of the country we’re visiting explaining this so there’s no confusion, as some countries aren’t deaf aware.”
Make sure you tell the travel insurance company about your child’s deafness and hearing technology...
Kirsty is mum to Zach (9) who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants.
“When going away we take an electronic dryer (a drying container to collect moisture), aqua cases, which are specifically for Cochlear N6 users and make the processors waterproof, international travel plugs and spares of everything.
It all goes on as free of charge medical hand luggage and doesn’t count against the rest of your allowance. We also take dry powder antibiotics in case Zach gets an ear infection.
We have the Cochlear annual insurance policy, where Cochlear guarantee to ship a replacement processor to you wherever you are in the world within a specified timescale mapped for you ready to use (but Cochlear offer a number of different insurance policies).
Regular travel insurance needs hearing loss and cochlear implants specified to cover any treatment at all. If you break a leg and they find out you didn’t tell them about deafness, you’re not covered for a broken leg!”
Write a briefing for holiday clubs explaining about deafness...
Amy is mum to Ryan (12) who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants.
“We apply for a holiday pack, which is free once a year or £60 otherwise, from Ryan’s cochlear implant centre. It has an implant processor and basic accessories in case of any problems. It’s a sealed pack and we’re asked not to open it until we’ve done all the usual troubleshooting, because the centre gets charged when we open a pack. I also take any spare parts we have, just in case.
If Ryan attends any holiday clubs I write a briefing, including what it’s like to have a hearing loss and how to communicate with him. It lists some deaf awareness tips, such as to speak facing him, don’t shout, repeat instructions away from busy situations and check he has understood.
I also include a very brief troubleshooting guide to his implants and any rules for taking them off for activities like swimming and trampolining. From experience if holiday club staff don’t ask how to communicate with him he doesn’t stay there.”