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.
We envision a society where there will be less discrimination and marginalization and more equality for people with disabilities. For that we believe that it is imperative to first empower children and people with disabilities to take control of their lives and then focus on sensitization of the society around to promote inclusiveness of people with disabilities. Inclusiveness cannot happen unless children with disabilities are on an equal footing with their non-disabled peers, and that can be done only if they overcome the barriers to economic and thereby social empowerment and integrate themselves into the mainstream society. Inclusiveness has two aspects: economic and social empowerment of the marginalized, and the sensitivity of the society around them. We at SAHAS work on the primary goal of empowerment for the hearing impaired child so that he/she can function effectively and integrate into the mainstream of the society on an equal footing with other people. We have seen that in a country like India such empowerment is not realized for hearing impaired children who communicate in sign language. Sign language restricts communication in the Indian social context, and thereby acts as a big barrier to proper education and work prospects. SAHAS envisions that no hearing impaired child will be deprived of a regular life in the mainstream on account of the lack of the ability to communicate in oral language.
The mission of SAHAS is to work for the overall empowerment of children with pre-lingual hearing loss so that they can learn to communicate through oral means and thereby access all opportunities that are available in the society for the wholesome development of their human personality in total.
• 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.