How to Make Listening Easier for Your Child with Hearing Loss at Home
What does it mean to create a home environment that supports listening? At first, it may seem obvious that a child who is deaf or hard of hearing needs a quieter space to listen. When we dig into the science behind environmental sound we start to understand why it’s so important for children with hearing loss to have full access to a spoken language without interruptions from noise inside their favorite learning environment, the home!
Before we explain, it’s important to note that all children need a quiet listening environment to hear well enough to understand and learn. However, children with hearing loss have a greater need for clear access to language than their hearing friends. As adults, we tend to be more comfortable in our listening environments and can easily ignore ‘background noise.’ For this reason, parents may not be aware of the sounds in their home because they can easily tune them out.
Sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Here’s a table to guide you on common sounds both in and outside the home:
- Whisper = 30 dB
- Normal Conversation = 50-65 dB (at a distance of three feet)
- Household Appliances = 60-90 dB
- Hair Dryer = 60-95 dB
- Television = 70 dB
- Baby Crying = 110 dB
- City Traffic from Inside Vehicle = 85 dB
- Noisy Restaurant = 85 dB
- Power Lawn Mower = 85-95 dB
- Large Dog Barking = 100 dB
- Band Concert = 120 dB
- Fireworks = 150 dB
As you can see, normal conversation levels are somewhere between 50-65 dB at a distance of three feet. However, that same conversation decreases in clarity and intensity for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing when there are competing sounds present. Try to imagine your child’s experience when they’re trying to process language that’s mixed with sounds in the home that exceed the conversation loudness. With an optimal listening environment, your child can even overhear conversations directed towards others that also contribute to great LSL outcomes.
To help combat unnecessary noise, we’ve listed some quick tips to help you create an effective Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) environment in your home that will enable your child with hearing loss to hear clear language for learning!
Tips for Listening Success at Home
- Take a Walk: Walk around your home at different parts of the day to observe and listen to the sources and locations of the noise
- There’s an App for That: Download a Sound Meter Level app to calculate noise levels of specific areas of the house
- Do a Quick Comparison: Access your home routines and their noise levels when your child is outside in comparison to when your child is alert, active and ready to listen
- Change Up the Routine: Consider running the dishwasher in the middle of the night and try to wash clothes or vacuum after your child’s bedtime
- Quiet Meets Quality Time: Go to another quiet room for some of your caregiving routines, such as changing a diaper or feeding your child, allowing for a quieter opportunity to interact and have conversations
- Turn Off and Tune In: Avoid background noise such as radio or TV when not being listened to or watched
- Consider Sound When Purchasing: When buying certain appliances, such as a fan, range hood or dishwasher, ask about its noise rating; some ratings are given in “sones:” the lower the sone number, the quieter the unit
- Cover Up Noisemakers: Place carpets or areas rugs over hard flooring, and use more cushions, curtains and wall coverings to absorb noise
Remember, when it comes to creating a great listening environment in your home, the less noise the better. While you’re making sure they have an optimal listening environment in the home, your child is busy loving the ability to hear your voice loud and clear!
Blog post originally appeared on the Hearing First blog, Getting to the Heart of Listening Around the House.