As students begin to enter the teenage years, our goal as professionals is to help them live well with their hearing loss. This stage of life can be confusing and hard to figure out, and each student that you see will inevitably be at a different point in their hearing journey. Professionals are charged with the responsibility to "meet" these students wherever they may be on this hearing journey. As we seek to do this, we can take advantage of the different features that the My World and Living Well tools have to offer.
Living Well tools on the Ida Institute website. Tweens and teens vary greatly in their level of maturity. This is why being flexible with the tools and even incorporating aspects from both of the tools can enhance sessions.First, we suggest that you take some time to explore and familiarize yourself with the My World and
The My World tool allows the child to self-identify communication obstacles in their everyday life. Whether at home, school, or community, the child can visualize their life in different areas. You can guide them through emotional, environmental, and technological solutions to help minimize the effects of hearing loss.
The Living Well tool will help you identify what is meaningful and important to the tween or teen in their personal life and take them through a self-discovery exercise to understand the situations in which it is most important for them to hear well.
By taking the time to find out what is most significant to them, you can help them increase their self-advocacy and take another step forward to living well with their hearing loss. The key is for you to be flexible. With teens, it is difficult to predict how the session may go. The most important impact that you as a professional can have is to take the time to listen.
When deciding what tool to use, one of the considerations is not just the age of the student but also their maturity level. The younger a young person acts, the more likely the My World Tool will be the tool of choice. As the student begins to face more challenges in his or her social life, the Living Well Tool can be more helpful. The combination of the two tools seems to work best with the "crossover" age group between tweens and teens.
As the professional, think about what your main goal for the session is. This will help you decide which tool to use. You may choose to use only one tool or a combination of the two. It is beneficial to have both tools available and remain flexible.
Do you have a student who is resistant to wearing amplification? Do you have a student who won't admit to others about their hearing and listening needs? Using the Living Well tool to self-identify what is important in their life can be an important first step. As the professional you can relate this to "the world we listen in".
Younger children will love to organize their home, school, and community environments, which offers you valuable insight into their world. As they set up their personal space, you get an opportunity to ask specific questions about noise, conversation, and technology. A discussion about the importance of self-advocacy and role play exercises can be easily integrated into this conversation.
We see children on an ongoing basis to assess their hearing and amplification. Consider using these tools as part of ongoing counseling to monitor their social and emotional hearing loss needs. Consider using the provided documentation forms with each tool to monitor progress. Take a digital picture of the finished layout to compare over time. Ask questions such as "last time you told me how difficult it is to hear the TV. We talked about a few strategies such as closed captioning and streaming. Have you tried these strategies?"
Parents (especially if they do not have hearing loss) may not fully understand the hearing and listening difficulties that their child experiences on a daily basis. You may want to video the session or have the parent observe from a remote location. Reviewing the session as a "team" can provide valuable insight to the parents and help them support self-advocacy.
In the case study below, an audiologist from the United States shares her experience with using both the Living Well and the My World tools with a 14-year-old teenager (here called Ann). The case study shows how the sessions helped Ann devise her own strategies and take ownership of her hearing loss.
I began using the Living Well tool with Ann and she was able to pick out several pictures that were very important to her life. We got into a healthy discussion about technology, specifically her FM system. She admitted that she really does not like to use it. It makes her feel awkward at times. It takes time to set it up and some teachers forget to turn it on. However, by using the Living Well pictures, she said that school is something that is really important to her and she wants to go onto college. She knows that she cannot do so unless she keeps up her grades. She recently got straight A's, but this grading period, she has a B in math. We talked about the class and she said that there is a lot of new vocabulary and that it is a very long class, which makes it hard for her to concentrate for extended periods of time. Using the tool, she chose to apply the FM system as a technological strategy to help her in this class. What a breakthrough for her! Now she identified the problem and owned the solution herself. We then proceeded to go to that class, set up the personal FM for that room, and talk to the teacher one on one. It was truly an amazing experience.
I also used the My World tool with Ann. We worked with the home environment. I found out a lot about how she loves music but needs to be able to stream to her iPod to hear it better. She talked about how when the dogs, siblings, and others are all in the living room, she is stressed and cannot hear. She talked about how her room is a safe haven in the evening because it is quiet and she is tired from the day. We talked about how hearing assistive technology would be helpful in the home and we are now working with her clinical audiologist and a nonprofit agency to try to get her a streamer for home use.
This student really liked the opportunity to sit down and talk about what is important to her and how her hearing loss impacts her in different situations. Both of these tools served to first find out more about Ann and second, come up with solutions that she herself was involved with (taking ownership which promotes carry over/usage). Using these two tools together helped promote advocacy goals for hearing loss in a positive light - an important skill for teens and tweens to develop in order to be successful after high school.