Autistic Kids and the Hearing Impaired

How do our kids do with the hearing impaired?

My son has been around other autistic kids for most of his life. He has also had contact with a few Down Syndrome kids. However, until recently, he has had very little contact with the hearing impaired.

He now has a deaf swimming instructor.

Unfortunately, he has struggled to communicate with her.

How did I help him?

The first thing I did was to make him aware that one of his instructors was deaf. I explained that one of his instructors cannot hear him.

He had to remember that this person communicated differently.

What is the biggest problem?

Eye contact is often a problem for autistic kids.

But, eye contact is essential when speaking with someone with a hearing impairment. They need to be able to read your lips. They need to be able to see your face.

Eye contact is still a challenge with my son.

I had to explain to him that when talking to this swimming instructor, he had to make an extreme effort to look at this instructor so she could read his lips.

That was the way she communicated.

How did he do?

He struggled to remember to give her direct eye contact and keep his body still in order to talk to her. I constantly reminded him, but it wasn’t easy for him.

Swimming takes place in a large outdoor pool. It can be noisy with a lot of sensory challenges.

My son often shows up with a high running engine. He has trouble focusing.

What about the hearing impaired person?

This instructor works with special needs kids. She knows about autism and understands that the kids she works with sometimes have trouble looking at her when speaking to her.

She makes an effort to gesture to help the kids out.

What happened?

The swimming instructor went back to school recently, so she no longer helps out these kids.

But, still I thought my child made strides in finding a way to communicate with her. It took a lot of reminder and practice, but by the time she left, my son was doing much better.

My son typically improves with his communication abilities as he gets to know people. He gets more comfortable with them.

I thought this experience was great for him because people communicate in different ways.

Now he’s had this experience under his belt.

I hope it’d only help him in the future.

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