How do I... keep my child safe?
Every parent is concerned about keeping their child safe, but when your child is deaf sometimes you have to give certain situations more thought or planning. Parents and young people give us their advice on keeping children safe in lots of different places.
Using a radio aid alongside signing works best for us...
Sarah is mum to Chloe (5), who is severely deaf and wears bone conduction hearing aids.
"As well as having hearing loss, Chloe has a rare genetic disorder known as 9p minus syndrome. This means that she has global development delays and safety awareness and following instructions are things she struggles with.
We’ve been very lucky to have had the use of a radio aid since Chloe was very young, currently we use a Cochlear Mini Mic 2 with her Cochlear Baha 5 bone conduction hearing aids. This works really well as Chloe can hear us even if she has gone a bit ahead of us or we’re in a noisy situation. We can talk to her and know she can hear us.
We’ve also used sign language with Chloe since she was a baby and find this very useful in helping her understand instructions. We’ve always found using a radio aid alongside signing works best for us in keeping Chloe safe.
A really good example was on a recent holiday, Chloe wanted to join in with the dancing with other children at the disco. It was very noisy and Chloe had gone to the other side of the room, but we could talk to her through the Mini Mic and also sign to her, which she could see across the room, so she understood to come back to us. It has also been very reassuring that at school the teacher can use the Mini Mic and we know that whatever else is going on in the room, Chloe can still hear instructions keeping her safe."
My parents always set ground rules...
Ellie (21) is profoundly deaf and wears hearing aids.
"As a child you’re bound to be adventurous and it must be a nightmare as a parent! Before we went outside, my parents always set ground rules for whichever situation it was and made sure I’d understood what they said. This included things like: don’t talk to strangers, stay nearby don’t run onto the road etc. If I questioned why, they’d explain the worst case scenario and it would eventually stick, so I’d obey their rules. As well as my teachers using it at school, my family used my radio aid out and about as a way of ensuring they had direct communication with my hearing aids. If there was danger, I’d hear only Mum shouting!
Throughout my A-levels, school helped me to become more independent, to prepare me for the ‘outside world.’ As we only did three to four subjects, and subjects like Textiles and Media Studies were creative subjects, I used that opportunity to not have learning support assistants with me so I could become independent. If I didn’t understand what to do, I’d ask the teacher to explain, similar to being out in public and having to ask people questions.
We also looked into vibrating, flashing smoke alarms which the Fire Service installed in case of an emergency. They discussed escape
routes and what to do in a fire i.e. text 999 on emergencySMS and tell them the important details.
A key element of personal safety is going out alone in the dark as I can’t see or hear. If I’m to be in this situation, I always keep my fully-charged phone on me and a personal safety alarm. So my advice would be: be seen, be safe, stay in well-lit areas and never go out alone in the dark. If you’re unsure, always ask."
Crossing roads can be a problem for Emma...
Liz is mum to Emma (11), who is moderately deaf and wears hearing aids.
"Crossing roads can be a problem for Emma. She doesn’t hear cyclists or traffic with all the background noise around so I have to make sure that she’s watching the road and the traffic. We usually link arms as I walk Emma safely home from school. Motorbikes are especially frightening for a child with hearing loss as they’re very fast and approach all of a sudden with deafening noise. Emma is always nervous of motorbikes. We leave the house together and stay together on the walk; Emma always walks on the inside away from the road. If we have to walk single file then Emma always walks in front of me.
Walking home on a winter evening when it’s dark is especially challenging for a child with moderate hearing loss. Emma always wears a brightly coloured fluorescent jacket to counteract this. She loves to chat and tell me about her day and is usually very excited on the way home from school. I have to really concentrate on the walk and be very vigilant for cyclists, joggers, motorcycles and cars as the roads are very busy."