Quietly getting on with it

Written by: Joelle Bergin
2 October 2018

It is important to develop a support plan for a child with hearing loss, so that all staff understand how practice and resources can be adapted to ensure he makes progress with learning, language and social interactions.


Q) Arjun, aged three-and-a-half, has been attending our nursery for the past six months. His parents had concerns about his hearing when he started nursery and he has recently been diagnosed with a hearing impairment. He has about 50 per cent loss of hearing in one ear but it is expected that his hearing will continue to degenerate.

He is a friendly child who socialises with his peers. As may be expected Arjun’s language skills are poor but he does talk. How can we continue to support his language and social skills and what should we do to ensure that our setting is suitable for a child with hearing loss?

Joelle Bergin replies

A) It is important to develop a network of support for Arjun, one which is clear and achievable. Before you are able to provide the appropriate interventions and provision for Arjun it is imperative that the practitioners ensure the environment is safe and accessible. The first step would be to develop a support plan for Arjun, utilising the Assess, Plan, Do Review cycle outlined in the SEND Code of Practice (2015), available online at www.gov.uk.

A noise audit will highlight the areas that he may find particularly problematic. A classroom may need to be altered to provide a ‘good listening’ environment. Practitioners can assess exterior and interior noises, noting times of increased sound and duration. From here the environment can be adapted; an example of this is limiting background noise.

Unlike other children, Arjun may find it difficult to organise sounds making it challenging for him to focus on one thing, such as a teacher speaking to him. Having windows closed to minimise traffic and weather noises can be a good starting point. While creating a quiet zone can provide a secure space for Arjun to focus and feel at ease. These zones can also facilitate communication by giving Arjun and other children a space where they can hear each other and interact closely.

If you also carry out the noise audit while he is playing in the room and outdoors it will support practitioners’ understanding of his strengths and needs, focusing on how he is interacting with different resources. For Arjun, not being able to effectively recognise or distinguish between noises can make his interactions with resources very different from others so it could be beneficial to accompany resources with photographs so that he can see how to operate toys.

Arjun may bang things repeatedly, not understanding that this sound can be uncomfortable or irritating for others, so having visual representations of how to utilise things can support Arjun with his play and promote interaction
with others.

A ‘Now and Next’ board can support him with the daily routine. In comparison to visual timetables the information is more simple and digestible. Arjun may not be able to pick up on tidy up songs or have limited focus when the group is being addressed, so getting down to his level and showing him the change in routine can be hugely beneficial.

He could benefit from small group work out of the classroom to help extend his language skills. Practising simple role-play concepts together can promote both understanding and speech. For example, playing a Teddy’s picnic and giving simple instructions such as, ‘Give teddy the green apple’. Arjun can practise following instructions and respond in a turn taking fashion. Gradually practitioners can introduce a third party – a friend – to extend language further.

It may be worth developing your own resources to help Arjun navigate his hearing impairment. For example, make sound cards in traffic light colours so he can signal when noise has become uncomfortable. There is also a wide range of additional resources to download online.

*Child’s name has been changed

Joelle Bergin is SENCO and quality provision lead at Each Peach Childcare

Compiled by Annette Rawstrone

If you have a problem for Joelle please email ppsedit@markallengroup.com

Further information

  • National Deaf Children’s Society, www.ndcs.org.uk

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