As you may know, my son Harry is profoundly deaf, but with the help of bilateral AB cochlear implants he is able to hear! There are still times, however, that we need to be a bit more ‘deaf aware’, especially when communicating things like where we are going and how we will be getting there.
Here are a few handy tips that I have found useful when travelling with my deaf child:
We try to give Harry lots of information and guidance about what we are going to be doing each and every day as sometimes, in conversation, he might miss where we are off to and this can get a little bit confusing for him. When going abroad, it’s a good idea to give your deaf child a little bit more notice than usual about where you are going and how you will be getting there. For example, if you are going to be going on a plane, it’s a good idea to start talking about planes, perhaps read some books together about what happens when you fly on a plane and go on holiday. (I highly recommend the books Going on Holiday and Peppa Goes on Holiday.)
If you are flying, it is a good idea to make the airline aware that you are travelling with a deaf child, especially if they are travelling with their hearing aids/cochlear implants. We also like to let people sitting around us know that Harry is deaf and can’t use headphones with his particular cochlear implants. That way, they are aware they might be able to hear his iPad if we have the sound on for him. We have found that people are really accommodating and also make a bit of a fuss of him, which makes Harry feel really comfortable and at ease!
If you’re staying at a resort, you could also make them aware of your child’s hearing loss so that they can be vigilant and mindful that they might not always be able to hear them.
Check your cochlear implant manufacturer’s guidelines for when you need to go through airport security. Some advise you not to put your processors or mics through X-ray machines. Some also advise to take some paperwork to tell security what a cochlear implant is and why it shouldn’t be in your hold luggage.
If you’re travelling to a foreign country where they speak a different language, try to explain this to your child. It could be quite confusing when they land and people around them are talking in another language! I think it will be quite difficult for us to explain this to Harry as he isn’t quite at the ago to understand about different countries yet, but we are hoping he doesn’t get too confused.
Living in England, we aren’t often around swimming pools or the sea, so when Harry does see water he tends to want to run and jump right in. It is a good idea to start talking about the danger of being near water with youngsters if you are going to be around it a lot on your holiday.
Most cochlear implant manufacturers offer ‘loan kits’ to take on holiday, for use in case your usual equipment stops working. This can come at a price and you do need to apply for the kit well in advance so bear that in mind if you’re thinking of doing this. If you have spares of anything, take it with you, especially batteries – just in case.
In my summer post, I wrote quite a bit about making your cochlear implant waterproof. Of course, on holiday there is usually a lot of water-based activities going on so waterproofing is great (if it’s an option).
Do you have any more tips for travelling with a deaf child? If so, I would love to hear them in the comments section.