Another sensory handicap, the sense of hearing is almost as important as that of sight. Especially as life is meant to be enjoyed in all its flavours. Unfortunately, if a child is born deaf, he is not able to pick up basic language skills and is classified as a deaf mute. In fact, the degrees of deafness are classified as:
- Born deaf and therefore speech deficient
- Partial impairment of hearing capacity
- Loss of hearing due to accidents or injuries
His method of communication also depends on the degree of the affliction. This means that those who are born deaf will not be able to learn a language and will have an added speech deficiency. And those with a partial impairment will be extremely slow learners but can be assisted with hearing aids. Whatever the cause, the result is the same. His method of communication is disturbed and considered abnormal and deeply affects his social and future economic life.
Causes of deafness
The most common causes of congenital deafness are prenatal infections such as high fever, typhoid, and influenza during pregnancy. Later in life, deafness can occur due to severe throat or nose infections, extremely high fever, meningitis, encephalitis or even accidents or injuries. In such cases, it is even more difficult for the child to adjust to the loss since he has already tasted the joy of all his senses and has to understand his new limitations that are totally different from his earlier experiences.
These children have to be placed in special schools that are expert in providing special training through technical personnel. Emphasis is placed on providing auricular training to accelerate and improve language comprehension and consequently acquire the ability of speech. Auditory training and the art of lip reading are taught to those with partial hearing problems, so that they can finally be trained to join regular schools. On the plus side, it has been observed that the aurally challenged child has higher powers of concentration, more energy and is also extremely cautious. Good abilities to get ahead in the world if provided with the right opportunities.
But before one sets out to educate this child, it is necessary to ascertain the damage or the degree of affliction in order to provide the right facilities and learning environment. For this we require sophisticated apparatus for diagnostic purposes in order to classify children according to their capacity of hearing and facilitate the entire learning process. If groups are formed, and children taught together, depending on their capacity, probably with the help of hearing aids, then social interactions are also possible. If the child is taught individually, he might still not have the confidence to communicate with the rest of the world.
Once the child is rehabilitated, and some are even able to join regular schools, teachers should explain the basic acoustic problem of the child to the other normal children in the classroom, and instill in them a sense of compassion and consideration for this special child, and ensure that he is not ridiculed or made fun of in any way. Parents should also try to treat their child as normally as is possible and help the child to adjust to the world around him. There are many programmes available to the parents of such children to help them to understand what they are dealing with and to get timely help and assistance to help their child overcome his deficiency.