The Educator Sez…on Self-Advocacy in Young Children

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It’s time for…..the Educator sez! This occasional post answers frequently asked parent/professional questions or areas Educators know are important. Today’s post comes from Holly Frigerio, MA, SJI classroom teacher and she’s focusing on self-advocacy in young children. Pick your tip based on you -parent or professional in the field. 

PARENT
“In the early months and years of your child’s life, you as a parent are advocating for your child, advises Mrs Holly. “Advocacy is the process of striving to improve the quality of life for someone else” (Byington & Whitby, 2011). After kiddos enter the toddler classroom at SJID, I start introducing self-advocacy skills. “They’re just two!?” I know, two seems so young, but it is never too early to introduce these skills for kiddos who wear hearing devices along with the other technology that comes with them! “How?” you ask, well, it’s simple! When you are checking your child’s devices and realize the battery is dead or you see the blinking lights on their hearing aids or cochlear implant indicating their device is dying, it is the perfect learning opportunity for self-advocacy. Point out, “Oh lets listen, your hearing aid is dead. When your hearing aid is dead, you can tell me, “uh-oh, my hearing aid!” and point to the hearing aid (depending on the child’s language and age this phrase can vary). Continue to do this every time your child’s device is dying. The repetition will eventually carry over and before you know it, your child will be reporting to you when their device is dead!

PROFESSIONAL 
“Professionals can also use teaching moments like this for self-advocacy during therapy or in the classroom,” she says. “Another piece of technology that kids with hearing loss may have is an FM/DM system, these systems can provide additional help in challenging listening situations for children with hearing loss. If your child has a DM system, the therapist can begin letting the child press the “connect” button on the roger microphone during their daily device check. This will eventually carry over when they go off to kindergarten and have to advocate in a general education classroom by asking the teaching to connect their device or ask the teacher to wear the microphone during class time.”

“The goal is for all children with hearing loss to learn when they are hearing and when something is wrong. Working with them early means the skill will come more naturally to them as they grow,” she encourages. “You, as an important adult in the child’s life, can be incredibly instrument in helping that skill develop and mature. Go, you!”