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November 24, 2004

Help for hearing-impaired

From: San Jose Mercury News - San Jose,CA,USA - Nov 24, 2004

Today's question is answered by Nancy Eddy, associate executive director of Parents Helping Parents. She is also the mother of an 18-year-old deaf daughter. E-mail your questions to

QUESTION: Our daughter is 10 and hearing-impaired, but she attends a mainstream elementary school. She has a few friends, but whenever she meets new kids she has a hard time knowing how to let them know about her disability and what to say. Her friends also tell her that some of the kids at school call her ''retarded'' behind her back, and this is making her very upset. What can we do?

ANSWER: Being hard of hearing is perhaps more difficult than being deaf. It is hard for many people, especially other children, to understand why someone may behave differently or ask extra questions without any visual clue. It's often best to be up front with new people and say something like, ''I don't hear well if I can't see you talking, so please look at me when we talk.''

There are also a number of good books available on growing up hard of hearing. Try visiting the Web site for references. Another good resource is

You may also want to contact the state-wide group of parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children in California, which is called IMPACT. It is a great resource and may have additional suggestions for you and your child. You can find it at

Being called names hurts anyone and is a form of harassment and bullying. Your daughter's school should be made aware of what is happening and should take a proactive position in preventing it from continuing.

Parents Helping Parents also offers information on disability awareness that can help. One presentation that can be very enlightening for people of all ages is ''Our Kids on the Block,'' which involves puppets who talk about bullying and even have a deaf/hard-of-hearing puppet. More information is available at

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