Deafness in Young Children and its Ramifications
A child learns to talk through hearing. If a hearing is impaired, a child does not listen and hence cannot learn to talk. However, if deafness is detected early (within 5 years of age) in the child’s life, a proper intervention programme can guide him to the wonderful world of sound and language.
Deafness in an invisible handicap, not evident in its organ or origin (i.e. ears) but is manifested in the lack of speech and language, leading to ‘communication disorder’ in a person. No intellectual development is possible without solid base in language.
Spoken language is learnt through hearing only. All human beings learn to speak during the first five years of life and very little can be done if the child crosses that crucial age. In the end, the child becomes a member of the marginalized section of society branded as Deaf and Dumb.
Till recently, it was not believed that a deaf child could also learn the language and therefore speak. The concept of using ‘Residual Hearing’ for language learning has remained largely unexplored. Statistics reveal that no child is stone deaf – every deaf child has some usable Residual Hearing and many of them have a lot of it. Using appropriate hearing aids can put this Residual Hearing to good use. Teaching language to a deaf child then is nothing but the cultivation of his residual hearing through auditory-verbal therapy in a language-rich environment.
For a toddler, language learning is a twenty-four-hour activity. Parents are thus best suited for the job of creating a language-rich environment as the child below five is with them almost all the time. SAHAS endeavours to equip the parents appropriately, so that every household with a deaf child becomes a special school, a centre for oral rehabilitation.
In the fall of 1991, Angshu – the first born of Madhumita and Shambhu Nath Jajodia was detected severe to profoundly deaf. Even as the world of the Jajodias crumbled around them, they decided to fight to the finish to save their child from impending dumbness. In their search for a valid intervention programme which would help achieve their goal, the Jajodias sought professional guidance and consultations at several levels and underwent a rigorous training programme at the John Tracy Clinic, Los Angeles, USA. Within a year the child attained enough language to be admitted to a mainstream school. Having achieved success with their own child the Jajodias began sharing their knowledge and experience with other parents of similar children, emphasizing the methodology of the rehabilitation programme. The method achieved its success and thereby came into being a Body of Parents working for the Oral Rehabilitation of their children. This body, in 1998, wished to spread its message and share the sweet taste of success with more and more people affected by similar circumstances. To increase and expand its scope, therefore, this self-help group pioneered by Shambhu Nath Jajodia and Madhumita Jajodia deemed it necessary to create a formalised Association. Thus was born SAHAS.
SAHAS – What we do
SAHAS is an organisation that primarily works with parents of children with hearing impairment, advocating early detection and early intervention in order to facilitate language development. In the past few years, we have also started working with children on the Autism Spectrum and language delays due to environmental under stimulation and have received positive results when parents have diligently worked with them. Please share this video as much as you can to spread awareness about early stimulation for appropriate language and cognitive development of children with hearing impairment and other developmental delays.
It is not uncommon for us to use the two words Deaf and Dumb as a single generic term ‘Deaf and Dumb’, meaning that Deaf will always be Dumb. However, the motto of SAHAS is Deaf, but not Dumb. For SAHAS is convinced by its experience, that if a child with deafness can be detected early in life, that is, within the crucial language-learning age of 0-5, is fitted with appropriate hearing aids and an intervention program is activated immediately in a language-rich environment, there is simply no reason why this child will not sit alongside his hearing peers in school and do all the things that a hearing child is expected to do.
SAHAS is a community-based organisation. The nucleus of any community is the family, the primary caregivers of a child. The aim of SAHAS is to rehabilitate the deaf child in the hearing community through an intervention programme which the parents are trained to execute. SAHAS wants the parents to be in the driving seat of their child’s rehabilitation programme.
SAHAS wants that the lives of the hearing impaired ones should not be shackled by their inability to communicate orally with the society at large. They should learn, talk and fight, feel and express emotions just as all other growing children do and develop their faculties to the best of their abilities. In short, SAHAS wants children with hearing impairment to surmount the barriers of their handicaps and lead meaningful lives. Above all, SAHAS believes that this CAN HAPPEN. And for this to happen, parents have a leading role to play. The awareness of parents, their acceptance of their child’s limitations and their motivation to help their children achieve higher and higher goals are crucial keys to the closed doors facing our hearing impaired children.
Early detection of Hearing Handicap, ideally within 0 to 5 years of age.
Immediate Intervention through proper amplification and training.
Equipping parents of hearing impaired children with techniques of orally and aurally handicapped children into the mainstream of Society.
Socio-physical support to the elderly hearing impaired.